A Deep Dive into Sleep Apnea: Understanding and Overcoming the Condition

Do you frequently wake up at night gasping for breath? Are you constantly tired and lethargic the next day? Don’t ignore these symptoms, as they may indicate an underlying medical condition like sleep apnea. 

The dentist in Buffalo Grove and their team are dedicated to helping patients recognize alarming symptoms to detect sleep apnea early and offer a comprehensive approach to treat the condition. 

What is sleep apnea?

The term “apnea” means breathlessness and sleep apnea is a clinical condition characterized by disrupted sleep due to interruptions in normal breathing. Sleep apnea is a chronic medical condition that leads to oxygen deprivation, triggering a survival reflex that wakes you up to resume breathing. While this helps restore breathing, it significantly disrupts your sleep cycle. Over time, untreated sleep apnea can result in serious consequences, such as increased strain on your heart. 

Man sleeping in bed wearing CPAP mask ,sleep apnea therapy Happy and healthy senior man sleeping deeply on his left side without snoring

What are the types of sleep apnea?

There are three main types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

  • This is the most common type that occurs when muscles in the throat relax excessively during sleep
  • This causes the airway to become partially or completely blocked. 
  • Breathing is interrupted leading to pauses in breathing and disturbed sleep.

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

  • This type occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.
  • Though there is no physical blockage the problem originates in the central nervous system.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome (mixed sleep apnea)

  • Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, or occurs when you suffer from OSA and develop central sleep apnea after starting continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. 

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can be characterized by any of the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Snoring while sleeping 
  • Waking up frequently at night due to breathing problems
  • Fatigue on waking up
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches, especially when waking up
  • Irritability 
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Memory loss
  • Unusual breathing pattern
  • Insomnia
  • Night sweats and heartburn
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Loss of libido 
  • Anxiety 

How is sleep apnea treated?

Based on the type and severity of the symptoms, possible treatment options include:

Non-surgical approach: For mild cases 

  • Conservative treatment 
  • Weight loss
  • Changing sleep positions
  • Nasal sprays
  • Medications 
  • Positive airway pressure (PAP) and adaptive ventilation
  • Oral appliances
  • Nerve stimulators 

Surgical approach: For severe cases

  • Somnoplasty
  • Nasal surgery
  • tonsillectomy/ adenoidectomy
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
  • Jaw surgery 

Recognizing the symptoms of sleep apnea and seeking timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial steps in managing this condition. By working closely with your doctor and following appropriate treatment strategies, you can restore peaceful sleep, enhance your overall health, and improve your quality of life.