Over 18 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. It is one of the most common sleep disorders. It is even estimated that at least 2-3% of children suffer from sleep apnea, but probably many more.
It’s important to understand the risk factors and disorder itself to better know how to prevent and treat it.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that affects a person’s ability to breathe during sleep. It causes numerous episodes of breathing cessation, causing low oxygen in the blood and sometimes increased carbon dioxide. There are two types of sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA):
In OSA, the soft muscles in the back of the throat can collapse, causing regular breathing to stop.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA):
In CSA, signals from the brain stop telling the muscles that control breathing to move, causing apnea spells.
Both types of sleep apnea are serious health disorders and need to be treated by a physician. Failing to treat sleep apnea can result in major health complications over a long period of time.
Who is at risk for sleep apnea?
There are several risk factors that can cause someone to have a higher chance of suffering from sleep apnea.
- Excess body weight
- Bigger neck circumference
- Having a large tongue or large nostrils
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Large tonsils
- Being male
- Having a deviated septum or sinus issues
What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?
If you’re worried you might be suffering from sleep apnea, there are several ways to evaluate for it. You and a loved one should monitor for the following:
- Loud snoring
- Witnessed episodes of cessation of breathing
- Gasping or choking when waking up out of sleep
- A headache when waking up in the morning
- A dry mouth and sore throat when waking up
- Significant daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty with concentration during the day
- High blood pressure
- Night sweats
- Low sex drive
If you have any of these signs or symptoms, consult your doctor for further testing.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
In order for sleep apnea to be officially diagnosed, a sleep study, or polysomnography must be performed in a sleep lab. During this process, you will undergo an overnight exam while you are sleeping to determine if you have sleep apnea or some other sleep disorder.
During the study, a technologist will place electrodes on your head and body to determine what stages of sleep you are in. Your oxygen will most likely also be monitored with a pulse oximeter. Even if you don’t get a full night’s sleep under these conditions, generally a few hours of data can diagnose sleep apnea. Your doctor will get the results and can make a diagnosis.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Once you are properly diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, you will be treated with a CPAP machine. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, helps hold a specific level of pressure in the airway to prevent the soft tissues from collapsing.
You will get a portable machine with a hose and mask to wear during sleep. It will be pre-programmed to the level of pressure needed to treat your sleep apnea. It must be worn at night to have an impact on your symptoms.
Central Sleep Apnea is treated with a BiPAP machine, as a backup rate can be set to help initiate a breathing cycle.
Your doctor may also recommend a weight loss and exercise program to improve your overall health.
What happens if sleep apnea is not treated?
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to a slew of health problems including but not limited to:
- Congestive heart failure
- High blood pressure
Sleep apnea can be responsible for things like poor work and school performance as well as motor vehicle accidents. It’s crucial to be diagnosed and treated for safety and quality of life.
Do you wear a CPAP for sleep apnea?
If you wear a CPAP, it is imperative that it’s being cleaned properly on a daily basis to prevent bacteria and mildew growth inside your system.
Ozone is one of the best methods to adequately and thoroughly clean the components of your CPAP or BiPAP machine. With the Sleep8 device, your hose and mask are placed into a special bag which is then attached to the device. Simply press a button and walk away! Our ozone technology will sanitize your components and have them ready for your next night of sleep.
Our FAQs page can answer any questions you may have about Sleep8.
Written by: Amanda Peterson