Do You Have Sleep Apnea
Laurence T. Gayao MD, Fitness Doc
Do you have sleep apnea or know of someone who has it? How do you know if you have sleep apnea? Apnea is defined as a disorder that causes you to stop breathing briefly, often while you’re asleep.
Symptoms of Possible Sleep Anea
Do you have these problems?
Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased sex drive
- Sleepiness while driving
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Morning headaches
- Restless sleep
- Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
If you have these symptoms you may have sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea video/ courtesy of Mayo Clinic
Sleep apnea is characterized by repetitive episodes during sleep where there is repetitive pauses of breathing for an abnormal period during sleep. There are two causes of sleep apnea first is obstructive sleep apnea and second is central sleep apnea.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is secondary due to narrowing upper airway and often pause in breathing lasts for 10 to 30 seconds. On the other had central sleep apnea is cause by periods of luck of signal from the brain to breath and it my last any were from 10 to 90 second.
In both cases the abnormal breathing of sleep apnea periods of inability to get air to the lungs during sleep. This decrease the oxygen level to the brain. Usually the sleep partner usually reports that the patient would have these pauses of breathing when patient would gasp of air or repeatedly wakeup or not even remembering waking up.
These episodes result in giving the body large amount of stress. It may cause day time fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, mode changes, inability to focus and memory problems.
There is associated increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, dementia and premature death. These are reasons to diagnose and treat the problem early on before complications develop.
Sleep apnea may run in families because certain disorders that maybe inherited may predispose one to have sleep apnea. These disorders are:
- breathing problems due defect in signals from the brain
- due to floppy upper airway tissue
- family history of obesity
- irregular sleeping pattern
- certain ethic groups people of African decent
“Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results.
Sleep specialists are doctors who diagnose and treat people who have sleep problems. Examples of such doctors include lung and nerve specialists and ear, nose, and throat specialists. Other types of doctors also can be sleep specialists.
Medical and Family Histories
If you think you have a sleep problem, consider keeping a sleep diary for 1 to 2 weeks. Bring the diary with you to your next medical appointment.
Write down when you go to sleep, wake up, and take naps. Also write down how much you sleep each night, how alert and rested you feel in the morning, and how sleepy you feel at various times during the day. This information can help your doctor figure out whether you have a sleep disorder.
You can find a sample sleep diary in the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep.”
At your appointment, your doctor will ask you questions about how you sleep and how you function during the day.
Your doctor also will want to know how loudly and often you snore or make gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Often you’re not aware of such symptoms and must ask a family member or bed partner to report them.
Let your doctor know if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with sleep apnea or has had symptoms of the disorder.
Many people aren’t aware of their symptoms and aren’t diagnosed.
If you’re a parent of a child who may have sleep apnea, tell your child’s doctor about your child’s signs and symptoms.
Your doctor will check your mouth, nose, and throat for extra or large tissues. Children who have sleep apnea might have enlarged tonsils. Doctors may need only a physical exam and medical history to diagnose sleep apnea in children.
Adults who have sleep apnea may have an enlarged uvula (U-vu-luh) or soft palate. The uvula is the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of your mouth. The soft palate is the roof of your mouth in the back of your throat.
Sleep studies are tests that measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. These tests can help your doctor find out whether you have a sleep disorder and how severe it is. Sleep studies are the most accurate tests for diagnosing sleep apnea.
There are different kinds of sleep studies. If your doctor thinks you have sleep apnea, he or she may recommend a polysomnogram (poly-SOM-no-gram; also called a PSG) or a home-based portable monitor.
A PSG is the most common sleep study for diagnosing sleep apnea. This study records brain activity, eye movements, heart rate, and blood pressure.
A PSG also records the amount of oxygen in your blood (oxygen saturation), air movement through your nose while you breathe, snoring, and chest movements. The chest movements show whether you’re making an effort to breathe.
PSGs often are done at sleep centers or sleep labs. The test is painless. You’ll go to sleep as usual, except you’ll have sensors attached to your scalp, face, chest, limbs, and a finger. The staff at the sleep center will use the sensors to check on you throughout the night.
A sleep specialist will review the results of your PSG to see whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is. He or she will use the results to plan your treatment.
Your doctor also may use a PSG to find the best setting for you on a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses mild air pressure to keep your airway open while you sleep.
If your doctor thinks that you have sleep apnea, he or she may schedule a split-night sleep study. During the first half of the night, your sleep will be checked without a CPAP machine. This will show whether you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.
If the PSG shows that you have sleep apnea, you’ll use a CPAP machine during the second half of the split-night study. The staff at the sleep center will adjust the flow of air from the CPAP machine to find the setting that works best for you.
Home-Based Portable Monitor
Your doctor may recommend a home-based sleep test with a portable monitor. The portable monitor will record some of the same information as a PSG. For example, it may record:
- The amount of oxygen in your blood
- Air movement through your nose while you breathe
- Your heart rate
- Chest movements that show whether you’re making an effort to breathe
A sleep specialist may use the results from a home-based sleep test to help diagnose sleep apnea. He or she also may use the results to decide whether you need a full PSG study in a sleep center.”
Sleep apnea treatments is depends on the under lying cause of the problem. It may be lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or changing sleeppositions, to CPAP therapy, to ever surgery to correct the specific problem.
Treating Sleep Apnea at Home
You may be able to treat mild cases of sleep apnea by lifestyle changes, for example:
- Losing weight.
- Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills.
- Changing sleep positions to improve breathing.
- Stopping smoking. Because smoking increases the swelling in the lining of the upper airway, which may worsen both snoring and apnea.
- Avoiding sleeping on your back.
“Continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP ) uses a machine to help a person who has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) breathe more easily during sleep. A CPAP machine increases air pressure in your throat so that your airway doesn’t collapse when you breathe in.” This is usually prescribed by a pulmonologist physician specialist.
If you suspect you or some you know has sleep apnea it is important to have it check you a physician before any permanent side effects set in.
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