Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects people of all ages. Because the condition primarily occurs when a person is sleeping, an individual who has it may not be aware that they are affected. Those with sleep apnea breathe unevenly through the night. Learn more about this condition and talk with your doctor if you suspect you have it.
There are three types of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where the body experiences abnormal breathing during sleep. There are three main types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in the upper airway relaxes and physically blocks breathing from occurring.
Central sleep apnea differs in that abnormal breathing patterns are caused by a problem in the brain rather than the airway muscles. Those with central sleep apnea experience slower and shallower breathing due to a failure of the brain to control the muscles needed for normal breathing. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include tiredness and snoring
Many people think that a normal part of adulthood is feeling tired and snoring during sleep. These can be two of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Morning headaches
- Lack of energy
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Feelings of gasping or choking during sleep
An estimated 22 million people in the United States have sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. It affects an estimated 22 million American citizens. This means that approximately one out of every 15 people is affected. Unfortunately, many of these people do not realize they have the disorder. This is why it is critical that those who have any of the symptoms of the condition be tested.
The condition affects men more than women
Though sleep apnea affects both men and women, men are more likely to experience the disorder. An estimated one out of every four middle-aged men has sleep apnea. Experts believe this is because men have a greater neck circumference than women. This increased size makes their upper airway more vulnerable to it collapsing during rest.
Middle-aged and older individuals are most likely to experience sleep apnea
Though sleep apnea can occur at any age, middle-aged and older individuals are more likely to have it. Only one to eight percent of children are believed to have sleep apnea, while an estimated 26 percent of adults ages 30 to 70 have the condition. After the age of 70, statistics drop to an estimated eight percent.
Your dentist may be the first to notice the condition
Most people visit their dentist at least twice a year. Frequent visits mean your dentist may be the first to notice the symptoms. People with sleep apnea may also grind their teeth, have enlarged tonsils or experience dry mouths.
If your dentist notices these symptoms, he or she may ask you about your sleep and refer you to a sleep specialist. Your dentist may also have the proper training to treat the condition. Sleep apnea snoring dentist may help fit you for an oral device that can keep your airways open and help you breathe better during the night.
Sleep apnea is more than just a sleep problem
Many people brush aside symptoms of sleep apnea as being a part of life. The reality is that sleep apnea affects more than just sleep. It can also affect your health. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have coronary heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and/or strokes.
Getting treated for sleep apnea can decrease the risk of these health complications and help you live a longer and more fulfilling life. Getting help with a diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea can help you get a better night’s rest and prevent medical complications.
If you think that you have the symptoms of sleep apnea, make an appointment with your doctor today and get started on a path to better health.