What is Sleep Apnea?

The Greek word “apnea” is translated as “without breath.” Sleep apnea is a relatively common sleep disorder that is caused by repetitive narrowing or collapsing of the airways during sleep. This reduction of airflow can led to slower breathing rates and possibly even complete lack of breathing for short amounts of time. Overnight sleep studies are needed to diagnose this disorder.

How did I get Sleep Apnea?

The major factors that can increase a person’s risk for getting sleep apnea are increased age, male sex, and obesity. Males and people 65 years of age and older are two to three times more likely to get sleep apnea than females and those younger than 65. A person that increases their weight by 10% is six times more likely to develop sleep apnea. Family history of sleep apnea, menopause, facial structure abnormalities, cigarette smoking, and alcohol use can also put a person at risk.

What are symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is usually identified initially by a person’s bed partner. They will notice that their partner snores loudly, snorts, gasps, and stops breathing during the night, which can lead to increased sleepiness during the day, decreasing productivity and concentration, All these symptoms can put a person at risk for difficulty thinking, poor quality of life, and possibly even increased risk of motor vehicle accidents.

What part of the body can be affected by Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can cause or worsen the presence of high blood pressure, impaired glucose metabolism, and cardiovascular disease.

How is Sleep Apnea treated?

The gold standard of treating sleep apnea is by using continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The person diagnosed with sleep apnea can wear a snug-fitted mask connected to a machine by a hose that delivers pressured air during sleep. This helps keep the airways open, preventing abnormal breathing and snoring. Oral appliances worn during sleep can also help keep airways open. If these treatment options are not successful, surgery is then considered as a last resort.

Can I prevent Sleep Apnea?

Yes you can! Weight loss is a great way to prevent this disorder. Simply losing 10% of your body weight will decrease your risk of sleep apnea. Smoking cessation, avoidance of second-hand smoke, and avoiding alcohol can also decrease risk of sleep apnea.