What is Sleep Apnea?


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You’re in bed and on the brink of that wondrous deep sleep, when you suddenly hear what sounds like a lion roaring at the other side of the bed. You wake up only to realize that the lion roaring is actually your partner snoring and totally disturbing your sleep. If this sounds like a situation you’ve experienced before, it’s important to know that your partner’s snoring isn’t just a nuisance, but could actually be a more serious issue, like sleep apnea.

The Mayo Clinic describes sleep apnea as, “A potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts.” This disorder is broken down into two types: obstructive sleep apnea, and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

When a person suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles in the back of their throat become relaxed, which narrows or closes the airway. This results in lower levels of oxygen in the blood. The brain can sense the body’s inability to breathe and will briefly wake up so that airways can be reopened. The sufferer will not remember waking up because it is so brief, but it can occur between 5-30 times an hour throughout the night. Most people that suffer from sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea.

Central Sleep Apnea:

Central sleep apnea is less common, occuring when the brains fails to transmits signals to your breathing muscles. People that suffer from this type often wake up with shortness of breath. They also have difficulty getting to sleep and staying asleep. Central sleep apnea is most often caused by heart failure or stroke.

There are many symptoms associated with sleep apnea. Most sufferers will experience excessive daytime sleepiness, since their body is constantly waking them up throughout the night. They can also encounter loud snoring, morning headaches, insomnia, or attention problems. On top of that, a person with sleep apnea may wake up abruptly with shortness of breath, and suffer from a dry mouth or sore throat. If you or your partner have experienced one or more of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor.

Besides the obvious danger resulting from not breathing, there are other reasons as to why this disorder is dangerous. Sleep apnea can affect your sleeping patterns, making you extremely tired during the day and inhibiting activities. This is dangerous because it can, in some cases, cause motor vehicle accidents or accidents on the job. There are also other health risks associated with sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure, stroke, or heart disease.

Sleep apnea can be caused by many things, including nasal congestion. If that’s the case, the experts at CT Sinus Center can help! We offer a variety of surgical and non-surgical options available for sleep apnea sufferers. To find out more about CT Sinus Center, visit our website and check-in to our blog weekly!

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