Sleep apnea is a serious sleeping disorder that is caused when your throat relaxes during sleep, obstructs your breathing, and prevents your body from taking in more oxygen. Over 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and almost 80% of cases that are moderate to severe go undiagnosed.
The 3 Types of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea – Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common and manifests when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and obstruct airflow, which results in snoring.
- Central Sleep Apnea – Central Sleep Apnea is much more serious. It occurs when the brain does not send the correct information to the throat. This can lead to a laundry list of problems, including chronic fatigue, excessive daytime drowsiness, and nighttime chest pains.
- Complex Sleep Apnea – Complex Sleep Apnea needs to be treated immediately. It occurs when someone with central sleep apnea also has obstructive apnea, which disables breathing at night and can lead to suffocation.
What Are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
It’s often difficult to determine whether you’re suffering from obstructive or central sleep apnea since symptoms often overlap. For a proper diagnosis, you should see an otolaryngologist. This will also ensure you’re treated properly.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Periods at night when breathing completely stops, which is usually witnessed by another person
- Abruptly awakening at night needing to catch your breath
- Dry mouth and sore throat upon waking up
- Headaches in the morning that are similar to a hangover
- Insomnia and difficulty sleeping
- Prolonged daytime sleepiness
- Inability to focus
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by a variety of different things. The most common, however, is due to inflammation caused by inhaling substances that irritate the throat, including smoking and allergies.
Other causes of sleep apnea are:
- Swollen tonsils or adenoids
- A deviated septum
- Blocked nasal passageways
- Consumption of alcohol before sleeping
Brain infection, stroke, and trauma to the neck can also cause sleep apnea.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea?
Some sleep apnea symptoms are acute and directly connected to activities like drinking or taking sleeping pills. In these types of situations, the symptoms will go away on their own.
Others, like blocked nasal passageways or a deviated septum, can be treated through minor surgery. Sadly, for causes related to asthma or allergies, there is no good way to permanently cure sleep apnea. There are, however, things you can do to alleviate the symptoms:
- Sleeping on your side instead of on the back. This will cause your throat muscles to relax on the side, which leaves a larger opening for breathing.
- Using nasal decongestants, which will open your nasal passageways.
- Using inhalable steroids, which will keep your muscles firm longer.
There are also devices that you can place in your mouth at night to prevent your tongue from closing your throat.
Finding an Otolaryngologist in Boynton Beach & West Palm Beach
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, contact Joshua P. Light MD today at (561) 349-6825. Our team will take the time to learn more about your symptoms, get to the root of the problem, and set up an appropriate treatment plan.