What is Sleep Apnea?

Written by Allison Bordewick on

The term “sleep apnea” or obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) appears often in daily speech; it’s a very common (yet potentially serious) sleep disorder “in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts,” according to Mayo Clinic.

There are two other common forms of the disorder: central sleep apnea, where your brain doesn’t communicate properly with the muscles that control your breathing, and complex sleep apnea syndrome, where the patient has a mix of obstructive and central sleep apnea. To keep things simple, we’ll stick to what we know about OSA.

Health risks

Males are typically more at risk than women, and being overweight, over the age of 40, having large tonsils and/or tongue and a family history of sleep apnea can all increase your risk. Not treating your sleep apnea can have an effect on your blood pressure and can increase your risk of stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, ADHD and headaches.

Signs and symptoms

According to the Mayo Clinic, you may have sleep apnea if you have any of the following symptoms: Loud snoring Breathing cessation Abrupt awakenings followed by shortness of breath Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat Morning headache Difficulty staying asleep Excessive daytime sleepiness Attention problems Irritability It’s time to see a doctor if you’re disturbing others while you sleep, you wake up gasping for air, or you’re unable to stay awake while working, watching TV or driving.4

Treatment

Aside from lifestyle changes such as losing weight or eliminating a smoking habit, the most effective way to treat your sleep apnea is with a CPAP device. CPAP devices, like the miniCPAP™ from Transcend®, deliver pressurized air into your airway passages through a mask on your face. Many CPAP machines are large and heavy, but the miniCPAP is as small as a soda can, weighs less than a pound, and can be battery-operated. Take it wherever you go: camping, fishing, and hiking; it’s even FAA approved so you can use it on your next flight.

Benefits to treating your OSA 

If reducing your risk of diabetes and heart disease isn’t incentive enough, the biggest benefit to treating OSA is that you’ll get a better night’s sleep. When you’re well-rested, your immunity is boosted, you lower your risk of injury, your mood is elevated, you have better control over your weight, you’re able to think clearer, and your memory is better.5 Those are pretty good reasons to seek treatment.

We talk a lot about how important it is to get a good night’s sleep; hopefully what you’ve read here will be the gentle nudge you need to speak with your doctor about any symptoms you may be experiencing. You have good sleep on the line!

 

1Mayo Clinic Staff. "Sleep Apnea." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
2WebMD Medical Reference. "What Is Sleep Apnea? Causes, Risk Factors, and Effects." WebMD. WebMD, 2014. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
3WebMD Medical Reference. "What Is Sleep Apnea? Causes, Risk Factors, and Effects." WebMD. WebMD, 2014. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
4Mayo Clinic Staff. "Sleep Apnea." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 25 Aug. 2015. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.
5Griffin, R. Morgan. "Sleep and Health: 9 Surprising Reasons to Get More Sleep." WebMD. WebMD, 2010. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.


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