Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a very serious, life-threatening condition in which one repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. The periods of not breathing can last several seconds, leaving you gasping for air, and sleep apneaics may have hundreds of these episodes during one night.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and a combination of the two. OSA is caused by a blockage of your airway; excess tissue may be the cause of this blockage. The blockage could be in the nasal passages, or something related to the structure of the jaw and airway may also cause the sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea. In CSA, the brain does not send the appropriate signals to the breathing muscles to produce respiration.

The causes of sleep apnea are numerous and may include:

Structural problems in the airway that cause interrupted breathing during sleep
Throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep blocking the airway
Narrowing of the airway often occurs in obese individuals due to the excess tissue in the throat and neck areas

Some people are more prone to suffer from sleep apnea than others. A staggering 15 million people are estimated to suffer from this condition with more men than women having the condition. People who are overweight, have hypertension (high blood pressure) or snore loudly are at a greater risk of developing sleep apnea. Some studies indicate that the disorder may be hereditary.

There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea, and treatment for sleep apneaics varies from case to case. In the past, CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) has been used but because you must actually wear a mask while you sleep. The CPAP machine uses pressure to send air flowing through the nasal passages. Other treatments for sleep apnea include:

Oral appliances
Behavioral changes
Medication
Surgery

If you think you may suffer from sleep apnea, there is help out there for you. In Gurnee, Illinois, Dr. Ira Shapira has successfully treated thousands of sleep apneaics, and he can help you, too. Please contact The Snoring & Sleep Apnea Treatment Center in Gurnee today to schedule an evaluation.

posted by Lynn at 7:54 AM