What is Sleep Apnea?
Snoring and sleep apnea are both common sleep disorders that can have serious health consequences. Snoring occurs when the soft tissues in the back of the throat vibrate during sleep, blocking the airway and causing breathing to become obstructed.
Sleep apnea is a more severe form of snoring in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Left untreated, it can lead to death.
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
There are a number of signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, including:
- Loud snoring: This is the most common sign of sleep apnea.
- Episodes of stopped breathing during sleep: These episodes may be reported by a bed partner or roommate.
- Gasping or choking during sleep: These episodes may also be reported by a bed partner or roommate.
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat: This is due to the drying of the airway during sleep.
- Morning headache: This is due to the lack of oxygen during sleep.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness: Aside from snoring, this is the most common symptom of sleep apnea, according to the Sleep Foundation. It can cause problems at work, school, and in relationships.
- Difficulty concentrating: This is another common symptom of sleep apnea. It can make it difficult to learn new things or to remember things.
- Mood changes: People with sleep apnea may experience mood changes, such as depression, anxiety, or irritability.
- Accidents and auto collisions: Sleep apnea can make you more likely to have accidents, such as car accidents. This is because sleep apnea can cause you to be drowsy during the day.
Often, a person’s partner is the first to become aware of and concerned about the condition, witnessing them fighting for air in their sleep.
Causes of Sleep Apnea and Severe Snoring
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep, causing breathing to stop or start repeatedly. This can happen because of a number of factors, including:
- Obesity: Excess weight can narrow the airway, making it more likely to collapse during sleep. Losing weight would reduce a major comorbidity that leads to life-ending disease in general, according to Harvard.
- Anatomical factors: Some people have narrower airways than others, which makes them more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Age: Sleep apnea is more common in older adults.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than women.
- Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, such as enlarged tonsils, high blood pressure, and heart disease, can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
- Alcohol and drug use: Alcohol and sedative drugs can relax the muscles in the airway, making it more likely to collapse during sleep.
- Smoking: Smoking can irritate the airways and make them more likely to collapse during sleep.
If you have any of the risk factors for sleep apnea, it is important to talk to your doctor. They can evaluate your risk and recommend treatment if necessary.
Side effects of sleep apnea and snoring:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Reduced cognitive function
- Increased risk of death
If you snore or have sleep apnea, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. There are a number of effective treatments available, including:
- Weight loss
- Oral appliances
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy
If you snore or have sleep apnea, don’t wait to get help. See a doctor today to get a diagnosis and treatment.
Remedies for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
There are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of snoring and sleep apnea, including:
- Lose weight. If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can help to reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
- Avoid alcohol and sedatives. Alcohol and sedatives can relax the muscles in the throat, making it more likely that you will snore or have sleep apnea.
- Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your side can help to keep your airway open and reduce snoring and sleep apnea. Here’s where you can find out the best sleep position for sleep apnea.
- Use a snore guard. A snore guard is a device that fits over your teeth and helps to keep your airway open.
- See a doctor. If you snore or have sleep apnea, it is important to see a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment.
There are a number of effective treatments available for snoring and sleep apnea. With treatment, you can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of serious health problems.
Can Sleep Apnea Kill You?
Yes, sleep apnea can kill you, but not directly. It can cause a number of life-ending health problems, including:
- Heart disease: Sleep apnea can increase your risk of heart disease by up to five times. This is because sleep apnea can cause your heart to work harder to pump blood, which can lead to high blood pressure and other heart problems.
- Stroke: Sleep apnea can also increase your risk of stroke by up to three times. This is because sleep apnea can cause your blood oxygen levels to drop, which can lead to a stroke.
- Accidents: Sleep apnea can make you more likely to have accidents, such as car accidents. This is because sleep apnea can cause you to be drowsy during the day, which can impair your judgment and coordination.
- Sudden unexpected death in sleep (SUDEP): SUDEP is a rare but serious complication of sleep apnea. It is characterized by the sudden and unexpected death of a person with sleep apnea while they are asleep. The cause of SUDEP is unknown, but it is thought to be related to the heart problems and stroke that can be caused by sleep apnea.
If you have sleep apnea, it is important to get treatment. Treatment can help reduce your risk of these health problems and improve your quality of life.
Common Effective Sleep Apnea Treatments
|Stop snoring mouthpieces
|These devices are worn in the mouth and help to keep the airway open during sleep. They can be effective for mild to moderate snoring, but they may not be effective for severe snoring or sleep apnea.
|CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy
|This therapy uses a machine to deliver a continuous stream of pressurized air through a mask worn over the nose and mouth. The air pressure helps to keep the airway open during sleep. CPAP is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea, but it can be uncomfortable for some people.
|Sleep apnea surgery
|This surgery is performed to remove tissue or widen the airway. It can be effective for people who have not responded to other treatments, but it is a major surgery with some risks.
|Other common sleep apnea solutions
|There are a number of other sleep apnea solutions, such as positional therapy (sleeping on your side), weight loss, and lifestyle changes (such as quitting smoking and drinking alcohol). These solutions may be effective for mild to moderate snoring, but they are not as effective as CPAP or surgery for severe sleep apnea.
It is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment for your sleep apnea. The best treatment for you will depend on the severity of your sleep apnea, your lifestyle, and your preferences.
What is a CPAP?
A CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is a machine that delivers pressurized air through a mask to the nose and/or mouth while you sleep. This helps to keep your airway open and prevent you from snoring or gasping for air during sleep.
The first CPAP machine was invented in 1981 by Dr. Colin Sullivan, an Australian sleep researcher.
How does CPAP work?
The CPAP machine delivers pressurized air through a mask that is worn over the nose and/or mouth. This air pressure helps to keep the airway open and prevent the soft tissues in the back of the throat from collapsing during sleep.
Average CPAP Cost/Price
The cost of a CPAP machine varies depending on the brand, model, and features. A basic CPAP machine can cost between $300 and $500, while a more advanced machine with features such as heated humidification or auto-titration can cost upwards of $1,000.
Considering one of the most common complaints about CPAP is dry mouth and throat, you might not want to go discount shopping for a CPAP as a top priority. Securing the right model that’s appropriate for you is more advisable.
Does insurance cover CPAP machines?
Insurance coverage for CPAP machines varies depending on the insurance plan. Some plans will cover the entire cost of the machine, while others may require you to pay a copayment or deductible. You should contact your insurance company to find out what your coverage is.
Tips for Getting Started with CPAP Therapy
- Talk to your doctor about the best type of CPAP machine for you. There are many different types of CPAP machines available, and your doctor can help you choose the one that is right for your needs.
- Get fitted for a mask. The mask is the most important part of CPAP therapy, so it is important to get a mask that fits you properly. There are different types from which to choose, so pick one that’s most comfortable.
- Start using your CPAP machine gradually. Don’t try to use it for 8 hours the first night. Start with 30 minutes or so the first night, and gradually increase the amount of time you use it each night.
- Don’t give up. It can take some time to get used to using a CPAP machine. Don’t give up if you have trouble using it at first. Talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist for help.
CPAP therapy is a very effective treatment for OSA. If you have OSA, talk to your doctor about whether CPAP therapy is right for you.
It’s also important to remember that once you’ve established a CPAP regime, you should not end it cold turkey and should maintain your normal routine as much as possible. If you ever intended to cease using a CPAP, consult your doctor and see about tapering down your usage slowly and gradually.
CPAP Alternatives for Treating Obstructive (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea to Stop Snoring
CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. However, not everyone is able to tolerate CPAP therapy. For some people, CPAP therapy is uncomfortable, or they simply cannot get used to wearing the mask.
There are a number of CPAP alternatives available, including:
- BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure) therapy: BiPAP therapy is similar to CPAP therapy, but it delivers two different levels of air pressure. This can be helpful for people who have severe sleep apnea or who find CPAP therapy too uncomfortable.
- AutoCPAP therapy: AutoCPAP therapy is a type of CPAP therapy that automatically adjusts the air pressure to your needs. This can be helpful for people who have varying levels of sleep apnea severity throughout the night.
- Oral appliances: Oral appliances are devices that are worn in the mouth to keep the airway open during sleep. Oral appliances and stop snoring mouthpieces are not as effective as CPAP therapy, but they may be a good option for people who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy.
- Anti-snoring surgery: Surgery may be an option for some people with sleep apnea. There are a number of different types of surgery for sleep apnea, and the type of surgery that is right for you will depend on the severity of your sleep apnea and your overall health.
If you have sleep apnea and you are not able to tolerate CPAP therapy, talk to your doctor about other treatment options. There are a number of effective treatments available, and your doctor can help you find the right treatment for you.
Sleep Apnea Testing: Get a Sleep Study
You might suspect you have a snoring problem, but if it’s truly severe, you’ll want to get it checked out. Just remember that all it takes for your body to have a stroke or heart attack is losing vital air supply for a few moments. Then your body and organs start to shut down.
A sleep study, also known as a polysomnography (PSG), is a test that is used to diagnose sleep disorders. It involves recording various physiological parameters during sleep, such as brain waves, heart rate, breathing, and muscle movements.
A sleep study can be beneficial for people with sleep apnea or snoring because it can help to:
● Diagnose the condition: Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing repeatedly stops or becomes shallow during sleep. Snoring is a loud, disruptive noise that occurs during sleep. A sleep study can help to determine if you have sleep apnea or snoring, and how severe it is.
● Evaluate the severity of the condition: The severity of sleep apnea is measured by the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). The AHI is the number of times per hour that breathing stops or becomes shallow. A sleep study can help to determine your AHI, which can help your doctor to recommend the best treatment for you.
● Identify other sleep disorders: Sleep studies can also be used to identify other sleep disorders, such as restless legs syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and narcolepsy.
● Monitor the effectiveness of treatment: If you are being treated for sleep apnea, a sleep study can be used to monitor the effectiveness of your treatment.
This can help you and your doctor to make sure that your treatment is working and that your sleep apnea is under control.
A sleep study is typically done in a sleep laboratory, but there are also home sleep studies that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Home sleep studies are less expensive than sleep studies done in a sleep laboratory, but they are not as comprehensive.
If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea or snoring, it is important to see a doctor. A sleep study can help to diagnose the condition and determine the best treatment for you.
A stop snoring mouthguard may be a more affordable option for people willing to try something but lacking the funds for more advanced and expensive options.
Sleep Apnea Surgery
There are a number of different types of sleep apnea surgery, and the type of surgery that is performed will depend on the individual’s anatomy and the severity of their OSA. Some of the most common types of sleep apnea surgery include:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): This surgery is performed to remove tissue from the soft palate, uvula, and tonsils. These tissues can collapse during sleep and block the airway.
- Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA): This surgery is performed to move the upper and lower jaws forward. This can widen the airway and make it less likely to collapse during sleep.
- Genioglossus advancement: This surgery is performed to move the tongue forward. This can also help to widen the airway and prevent it from collapsing during sleep.
Sleep apnea surgery is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. This means that you will be able to go home the same day as your surgery. The surgery itself usually takes a few hours to complete.
After surgery, you will need to stay in the hospital for a few hours or overnight. You will also need to take it easy for a few days after surgery. You may experience some pain and swelling, but this should go away within a few weeks.
Sleep apnea surgery is a generally safe and effective treatment for OSA, though many regret the procedure afterwards. The surgery can improve your sleep quality, reduce your risk of health problems, and improve your overall health.
Risk and side effects of sleep apnea surgery:
- Pain: You may experience some pain after surgery. This pain can be managed with medication.
- Swelling: You may experience some swelling after surgery. This swelling should go away within a few weeks.
- Infection: There is a risk of infection after surgery. This risk can be reduced by taking antibiotics after surgery.
- Bleeding: There is a risk of bleeding after surgery. This risk can be reduced by taking steps to prevent bleeding, such as using a pressure bandage.
- Nerve damage: There is a small risk of nerve damage after surgery. This risk can be reduced by taking steps to protect the nerves, such as using a nerve block during surgery.
- Relapse: There is a small risk that your OSA may return after surgery. This risk can be reduced by following your doctor’s instructions after surgery.
If you are considering sleep apnea surgery, it is important to talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of the procedure.
I had deviated septum surgery once to enhance my nasal cavity, and while I lost a week in recovery time and had to endure pain and surgery, it only improved my condition slightly, if at all. That’s why I’d personally avoid the surgical option if at all possible.