Sleep Apnea:
the Silent Epidemic

Helping Patients Overcome Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by breathing disruptions during sleep. There are two main types: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA happens when throat muscles fail to keep the airway open, leading to blockages. CSA results from the brain’s inability to send proper signals to breathing muscles. Both types cause frequent awakenings, fatigue, and health issues. Treatments like CPAP machines and lifestyle changes help improve the quality of life for those affected.

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What are the signs of sleep apnea?

Signs of sleep apnea include loud and chronic snoring, frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, gasping or choking sounds, excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and mood changes. Additionally, individuals with sleep apnea may experience insomnia or restless sleep, wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat, and frequently wake up to urinate during the night. Not everyone with sleep apnea will exhibit all these signs, but if someone is experiencing multiple symptoms, it’s essential to seek a medical evaluation for proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

What are risk factors for sleep apnea?

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea. Obesity is a significant contributor, as excess weight can lead to fat accumulation around the upper airway, obstructing breathing during sleep. Age is another factor, as sleep apnea becomes more common as people get older. Being male increases the risk, though sleep apnea can occur in women as well. Family history plays a role, suggesting a genetic predisposition. Other risk factors include having a large neck circumference, smoking, alcohol consumption, nasal congestion, and certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disorders. Individuals with these risk factors should remain vigilant and seek medical evaluation if they experience symptoms associated with sleep apnea.

Is sleep apnea dangerous?

Yes, sleep apnea can be dangerous if left untreated. During episodes of paused or shallow breathing, oxygen levels in the blood may drop significantly, leading to hypoxemia (low blood oxygen) and hypercapnia (elevated carbon dioxide levels). These repetitive disturbances put strain on the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Sleep apnea can also contribute to daytime drowsiness, leading to impaired cognitive function, memory problems, and an increased risk of accidents or injuries. Additionally, untreated sleep apnea may exacerbate other health conditions and negatively impact overall quality of life. Therefore, it is crucial to seek proper diagnosis and treatment to manage and reduce the potential dangers associated with sleep apnea.