Posted on Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 9:00 am    

Sleep apnea is a chronic, progressive disorder that requires treatment. The disruptive sleep pattern it produces is due to upper airway obstruction that results in a lack of oxygen in the blood. The combination of disrupted sleep and reduced oxygen leads to other chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and an irregular heart rhythm, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The Progression of Sleep Apnea

Untreated, the symptoms of this sleep disorder become worse. Initially, patients experience mild snoring and pauses in breathing during sleep.

Because rest is interrupted, affected individuals fail to enter deep sleep. Since this is a time when the body restores and repairs itself, people with sleep apnea begin experiencing significant fatigue and daytime sleepiness. With time, this leads to problems with concentration and emotional well-being.

Factors That Increase the Risk of OSA

Certain behaviors and conditions increase the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Some of the most common are:

  • Obesity: Excess weight is a significant risk factor for OSA. Fifty percent of people with sleep apnea are overweight. Obesity causes fat deposits to accumulate around the upper airway, restricting muscle activity. Lowered muscle activity can lead to increased sleep apnea episodes.
  • Increased Neck Circumference: A person’s neck size can affect the airway’s ability to expand appropriately. With less expansion, breathing is restricted.
  • Sex: Women are less apt to develop sleep apnea than men. If a woman is post-menopausal or obese, the risk for OSA increases.
  • Chronic Infection: Swollen adenoids and tonsils can tighten a narrowed airway, making breathing difficult.
  • Alcohol or Sedative Use: Such substances relax the throat muscles and make it harder to breathe when sleeping.
  • Nasal Conditions: Allergies, infections, or nasal polyps can restrict breathing.
  • Smoking: Nasal inflammation commonly found in smokers or those exposed to second-hand smoke can restrict the ability to breathe.
  • Concurrent Medical Problems: Hormonal disturbances, polycystic ovarian disease, lung problems, and strokes can contribute to sleep apnea.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Several treatments may help with sleep apnea. Behavior modifications, such as weight loss, smoking cessation and alcohol or sedative avoidance, can help reduce the risk of OAS. However, for many people, the first step is correctly diagnosing the condition. Sleep studies usually achieve this.

Other forms of treatment include:

  • Oral Appliances: A dentist will fit an oral devices that is easy to use while sleeping that helps reduce airway constriction.
  • CPAP Machine: This machine provides continuous positive airway pressure and relieves the frequency of OSA episodes by maintaining an open airway. Many people find them uncomfortable,
  • Orofacial Therapy: This treatment relies on exercising the muscles responsible for tongue and upper airway strength.
  • Surgery: Procedures to remove adenoids and tonsils to make the airway bigger can help reduce the incidence of sleep apnea.

Visit Dr. Brown and His Sleep Apnea Team

If you have sleep apnea or want to know if you do, Silent Night Therapy and his team can help you. Schedule a complimentary consultation online or call [firm-number]. Start sleeping better today.