What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which a person may have one or more pauses in their breathing, or otherwise very shallow breathing, during sleep. It is almost always an ongoing condition that disrupts sleep because the brain has to keep waking you out of sleep to open the airway, which fatigues the brain.
It probably goes without saying, but many people don’t know that they have this condition because it only occurs while a person is sleeping and cannot be diagnosed through blood tests or other such means. In order to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, you must visit a doctor who specializes in sleep studies.
How Can It Affect Me?
According to the National Institutes of Health, sleep apnea is the leading cause of daytime sleepiness. Many people fail to get quality sleep because of some form of sleep apnea and as a result many people are excessively fatigued throughout the day.
Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea can result in an increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and even diabetes. This condition is also associated with memory loss, seizures, restless leg syndrome, and heart arrhythmias. Simply put, untreated sleep apnea can have some serious health consequences.
Who is at Risk?
Although sleep apnea can affect both genders, it is more common in men than in women. Furthermore, it can occur at any age, but most commonly affect older individuals. The most common factor for developing sleep apnea is obesity or excess weight. According to the latest estimates, about half of all people with sleep apnea are overweight.
How is It Treated?
Sleep specialists often use a number of different methods to treat sleep apnea. In many cases, losing weight and making important changes to your lifestyle is enough to get rid of this troublesome sleep disorder. In the cases where this is not enough, doctors use special mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery to treat sleep apnea. Treatments may also improve other conditions that may be related to sleep apnea such as high blood pressure or memory loss.
If you would like more information about sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatments, contact us today at the Intermountain Neurology & Sleep Center.