Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep. Sleep apnea can affect anyone. Even children can have sleep apnea.
There are two main types of sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment is necessary to avoid heart problems and other complications.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
– Excessive daytime sleepiness.
– Loud snoring.
– Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep.
– Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath.
– Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat.
– Morning headache.
- Excess weight. Fat deposits around your upper airway may obstruct your breathing. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight.
- Neck circumference. People with a thicker neck may have a narrower airway.
- A narrowed airway. You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat. Or, your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which can block your airway.
- Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
- Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in adults older than 60.
- If you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers. These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked.
- If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether it’s from an anatomical problem or allergies — you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
There are functional appliances designed against snoring and sleep apnea:
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