What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition marked by abnormal breathing during sleep. Patients suffering from sleep apnea have multiple extended pauses in breathing while they sleep. These temporary breathing lapses cause lower-quality sleep and affect the body’s supply of oxygen, leading to potentially serious health consequences.
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders in the United States. It can affect children and adults and people of both sexes, although it’s more common in men. Due to sleep apnea’s prevalence and potential health impact, it’s important for people to know its types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.
The Different Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three different types of sleep apnea that patients can develop:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): OSA occurs when the airway at the back of the throat becomes physically blocked. That obstruction causes temporary lapses in breathing.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA): CSA happens because there’s a problem with the brain’s system for controlling muscles involved in respiration, leading to slower and shallower breathing.
- Mixed sleep apnea: When a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time, it’s referred to as mixed sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.
Signs and Symptoms
The main indication of sleep apnea is repeatedly gasping for air throughout the night. Additional symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Loud snoring
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating during the day
- Limited attention span or difficulty thinking clearly
- Experiencing mood changes, such as irritability or depression
- High blood pressure
- Nighttime sweating
- Frequent need to wake up to urinate (nocturia)
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
In general, a person with sleep apnea isn’t aware of their breathing problems at night. For that reason, they often only find out about the issue from their bed partner, family member, or roommate. Excessive daytime sleepiness is the most likely symptom to be noticed by people with sleep apnea that live alone.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
The most accurate way of diagnosing sleep apnea is through sleep tests:
- Polysomnography: During this sleep study, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels. You may have a full-night sleep study or a split-night sleep study. In a split-night sleep study, you’ll be monitored during the first half of the night. If you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, staff may wake you and give you continuous positive airway pressure for the second half of the night.
Polysomnography can help your doctor diagnose obstructive sleep apnea and adjust positive airway pressure therapy, if appropriate. This sleep study can also help rule out other sleep disorders that can cause excessive daytime sleepiness but require different treatments, such as leg movements during sleep (periodic limb movements) or sudden bouts of sleep during the day (narcolepsy).
- At-home sleep tests: Under certain circumstances, your doctor may provide you with an at-home version of polysomnography to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. This test usually involves measurement of airflow, breathing problems, and blood oxygen levels, and possibly limb movements and snoring intensity.
If your sleep physician diagnoses you with a sleep disorder, Dr. Argyle can create an effective treatment plan and get your sleep apnea under control. Learn more about the treatments that Dr. Argyle offers.
Schedule an Appointment With Dr. Argyle
You don’t have to suffer from sleep apnea any longer. Dr. Arygle features a variety of treatment options, including oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances are comfortable, custom-made, and effective, providing patients with the relief they need.
If you’re ready to get control of your sleep apnea and wake up every morning feeling refreshed, visit Argyle Dental Sleep and TMJ. By scheduling an appointment with Dr. Argyle, he’ll take the time to discuss your sleep apnea symptoms and develop a customized treatment plan specific to your needs. Contact our Syracuse office today by calling (801) 416-3562 and one of our knowledgeable staff members will be happy to assist you.