Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that causes a person’s breathing to be interrupted during sleep. People with sleep apnea that remains untreated can actually stop breathing repeatedly (sometimes hundreds of times!) during a typical period of sleep. There are two types of sleep apnea; obstructive and central. Obstructive, which is more common, is caused by some blockage of the throat or airway, often caused by the collapse of the soft tissue in the back of the throat during sleep. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is not caused by blockage but occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe because of some instability in the respiratory control center.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age. Common symptoms include frequent awakenings or insomnia, sore or dry throat upon waking, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, mood changes and/or forgetfulness, and occasionally waking up with a gasping or choking sensation. Sleep apnea may cause poor performance in everyday activities like work, has been known to be a factor in some motor vehicle crashes, and in children and adolescents can be responsible for low academic achievement. If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in serious health problems including heart attacks, heart failure, hypertension, irregular heartbeats, and strokes.
Consult Your Doctor
If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, it is very important that you speak with your doctor or to us directly. A sleep apnea test at Mt. Scott may be required perhaps including a comprehensive polysomnogram, a comprehensive sleep study that allows for recording specific physical activities while you sleep and transmission of the results to our qualified sleep disorder experts for analysis and to determine the best treatment option. Sleep apnea treatments can range from very conservative measures like weight loss or simple position changes for your sleeping to use of CPAP equipment or surgical solutions if you are found to have a deviated nasal septum, enlarged tonsils, or an overbite caused by a small lower jaw causing the throat to be abnormally narrow.
As you see, proper sleep is not only important for “feeling good” during the day, it is an integral part of human health, and at Mt. Scott we specialize in identifying obstructions to quality rest, and in correcting the problem as quickly and completely as possible. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea or another sleep disorder, it’s important that you do not hesitate to speak with us or with your primary care physician.