Sleep Apnea Treatment in La Crescenta, CA
Sleep apnea is one of the more serious sleep disorders and it can become a life-threatening condition. The condition involves repetitive breathing disruptions throughout the night, while the individual is asleep. The individual may stop breathing as a result of the throat muscles becoming too relaxed, or as a result of the brain’s failure to send the correct messages to the muscles responsible for regulating breathing. These conditions are called obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, respectively. In complex sleep apnea syndrome, both of these conditions occur at the same time.
Causes and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
In obstructive sleep apnea, the muscles at the back of the throat become extremely relaxed. This causes your airway to narrow and, in more serious conditions, the airway may completely close. As a result, you won’t be taking in enough air to support your respiratory functions so there will be a lower oxygen content in the blood supply. As that blood reached the brain, the reduced oxygen content prompts the brain to awaken you. As you’re forced awake, your airway will return to normal.
In central sleep apnea, the brain isn’t sending the correct signals to the muscles lining your airway. In this less common form of sleep apnea, your body goes through short bursts in which it isn’t trying to breathe at all. This can cause you to awaken prematurely. You may also experience a shortness of breath as you wake up. You may find it more difficult to fall back asleep.
There are certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood that you will develop sleep apnea. For instance, overweight or obese people are more likely to develop this sleep disorder, especially if they have fatter or thicker necks. Additionally, men are more likely to suffer from it than women, and younger people are less likely to experience sleep apnea than older adults. The use of alcohol, tranquilizers, or sedatives will also increase the risk of having an episode.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The symptoms of each type of sleep apnea are similar. Although there may be additional symptoms, these are the most common signs that you’re experiencing some form of the illness.
- Loud snoring
- Interruptions in breathing patterns while asleep
- Gasping for air, which causes you to awaken
- Extremely dry mouth
- Waking up with a headache
- Sleepiness or fatigue throughout the day
- Short attention span
Treating Sleep Apnea
For milder cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be recommended. Losing weight, quitting smoking, and treating nasal allergies may be suggested to help alleviate the condition. Alternatively, a surgical procedure can treat the condition by ensuring the airway won’t become blocked as you sleep.
If you’re unsure about surgery, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is a common alternative. This involves wearing a respiratory mask to bed that will increase pressure on the airway to prevent blockages. While the machine does prevent breathing problems and snoring, it is also cumbersome and may require a period of adjustment.
You might also consider an oral device prescribed by your dentist. Essentially, these are devices you wear to bed that pull the jaw forward. In this way, the device prevents the throat muscles from narrowing so your airway will remain open.
If you do suspect that you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Leaving this type of condition untreated for a prolonged period of time increases the risks to your health. There are many ways to treat this condition so you won’t have to worry about these risks to your health.