Sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is interrupted throughout sleep, waking you up multiple times a night and leaving you fatigued and irritable. There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, each of which has a distinct cause.
With obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form of the disease, the muscles in the back of the throat relax and obstruct the airway. This limits the oxygen to your brain, causing the body to awaken, usually with a snorting or choking sound.
Although you usually aren’t aware that you’ve woken up, it can occur between five and 30 times per hour, significantly decreasing the quality of sleep you achieve and along with it, your well-being.
The less common form of this condition, central sleep apnea, occurs when the signals from the brain to the breathing muscles are not transmitted properly. This may cause frequent awakening with shortness of breath, as well as difficulty falling or staying asleep.
In addition to different causes, risk factors for the two types of sleep apnea also vary. People at higher risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea include men, older adults, people who are obese, especially those with fat deposits around the upper airway; people with a larger neck circumference (larger than 15 inches for women or 17 inches for men); people who use alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers or who smoke; people with a family history of obstructive sleep apnea; and people who have trouble breathing through the nose due to nasal problems or allergies.
Older adults are at higher risk for central sleep apnea, including anyone who is middle-aged or older. Other risk factors for central sleep apnea include having congestive heart failure, the use of narcotic pain medications and having had a stroke.
Although sleep apnea is a serious illness, it can often be resolved by making lifestyle changes. These may include losing weight, treating allergies or smoking cessation. However, you should always see a specialist to determine the appropriate course of treatment.
Dr. Lach at Lach Orthodontic Specialists is highly experienced in diagnosing sleep apnea and providing treatments. Some of the treatment options can include a removable snoring device, or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, which helps keep the upper airways open during sleep.
With locations in Orlando and Oviedo, Lach Orthodontic Specialists is here to help you when it comes to treating your sleep apnea. Together we can come up with a plan of treatment that is best for you and your unique situation.
Contact us today to schedule your appointment to learn more.