Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing involuntarily stops and starts. Repetitive episodes of upper airway blockage during sleep, is called obstructive sleep apnea. However, in central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain, and the rest of the body, may not get enough oxygen.
There are many types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea syndrome also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Excess weight and thicker neck.
- Chronic conditions like tonsils or adenoids that narrow the airways.
- Being male, being older and having a family history.
- Drinking alcohol, using sedatives or tranquilisers and smoking.
- Allergies or nasal congestion.
Risk factors for central sleep apnea include:
- Older people and being male.
- Disorders of the heart or a stroke.
- Using narcotic pain medications.
Signs & Symptoms:
If you feel listless and tired after sleeping all night, and you tend to snore loudly then these are definite indications that you have sleep apnea.
Some sleep apnea symptoms are gasping for air during sleep, short episodes when you stop breathing, a dry mouth and waking up with a headache. Other symptoms are insomnia, hypersomnia, irritability, moodiness and low attention span.
When you visit Medcare, you can get the right sleep apnea diagnosis and know which type you suffer from.
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea.
The diagnosis often commences with overnight monitoring of your breathing patterns at a sleep centre. Our experts perform sleep apnea tests like nocturnal polysomnography to determine the kind of sleep apnea that is troubling you.
If you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, our specialist will co-ordinate with other ENT doctors to check for blockage in your nose or throat. Similarly, you will be referred to a cardiologist or a neurologist if you display symptoms of central sleep apnea.
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