Congestion, a little too much fun with friends over drinks, allergies — these are all common reasons people snore from time to time. Ongoing snoring, however, may signal a larger problem, such as sleep apnea, and the snoring aspect is the least of our concerns when it comes to this chronic condition.
Sleep apnea can be a serious sleep disorder that casts a wide net over your health and wellness. To help you better understand the dangers of untreated sleep apnea, the team here at Advanced ENT & Allergy, including Dr. Timothy Queen, Nancy Gibson, FNP-BC, and Kristi Pham, MSN, FNP-BC, present the following.
Sleep apnea basics
The first point we want to make about sleep apnea is that it’s a sleep-related breathing disorder. With sleep apnea, your breathing stops and starts throughout the night, sometimes dozens of times per hour.
The second point we want to make is that there are two types of sleep apnea:
1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
This form of sleep apnea affects between 10% and 30% of adults in the United States. With OSA, soft tissues in the back of your throat collapse, blocking airflow.
2. Central sleep apnea
Affecting less than 1% of the population, central sleep apnea is caused by a breakdown in communication between your brain and the muscles that control your breathing.
In this blog post, we’re going to confine our discussion to OSA since it’s, by far, the most prevalent.
Side effects of obstructive sleep apnea
As we mentioned, people with sleep apnea can experience pauses in their breathing, sometimes dozens of times per hour as they sleep. The snoring associated with OSA is often described as a choking noise a person makes as they attempt to get air through the blocked passages. This choking noise is often the precursor to the brain rousing the sleeper just enough for them to clear their airways.
Given all of this, it makes sense that one of the primary complaints when it comes to OSA is daytime fatigue. If you’re being roused throughout the night, you’re not getting the restorative sleep you need. While being groggy during the day can render you less productive, research shows a 2.5-fold increase in the risk of motor vehicle accidents among people with OSA.
Beyond daytime fatigue, further research links sleep apnea to serious conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, impaired cognitive function, and even depression.
Treating sleep apnea
If you want to breathe easier during the night for better sleep and better health, the good news is that we offer effective treatments for sleep apnea. The first is a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that you wear at night to keep your airways open.
We also offer oral appliances that can keep your lower jaw in a position that prevents airway collapse.
To figure out which sleep apnea solution is best for your needs, contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to set up an appointment.