How does snoring and obstructive sleep apnea affect me?
Snoring is a mere nuisance to many people who have to live with a snorer. However, this is a symptom that can increase the risk of serious health issues. When this problem is accompanied by sleep apnea (which is the case with many patients) the potential complications are compounded.
What is sleep apnea?
According to the sleep apnea is recurrent episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep. This can happen several times while asleep and each event can last for a few seconds to a few minutes. The breathing may completely pause or may become shallow. This can happen frequently with some people experiencing it more than 30 times within one hour. Normal breathing is usually restored, for a while, following a loud snort or snore. This affects the quality of sleep which contributes to the early symptoms of sleep apnea.
What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea – OSA?
Since sleep apnea occurs during sleep, affected persons usually do not know that they have the problem. They will only learn about it from their partners or other close persons. The symptoms they might experience are results of poor sleep quality and quantity. These symptoms can include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Fatigue and poor productivity at work or school
- Poor focus and problem solving ability
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Mouth breathing – especially in children.
Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
- Too much throat muscle relaxation
- Large tongue and tonsillar tissues (weight worsens this)
- Age. Older people are at a higher risk of OSA
- Excessively small or posterior lower jaw/chin
Related risk factors of OSA
- Being a male
- Older person
- A snorer
- Being an excessive sleeper
It should be noted that OSA can affect people of all ages and gender.
Diagnosis of OSA
An accurate diagnosis of OSA is arrived at after your doctor takes a detailed personal and family history. This is followed by a thorough physical examination. Depending on the preliminary findings, you may be referred to an Otolaryngologist/sleep specialist. The specialist may carry out certain sleep studies on you and employ the use of special monitoring electronic gadgets that can help him collect data about your sleep quality.
Treatment of OSA
This needs a multifaceted approach. The cause is rectified where possible. Other measures include:
- Reducing weight for obese patients
- Eating dinner earlier early
- Getting used to breathing nasally
- Strengthening your tongue muscles through tongue exercises. A study carried out in Brazil and published in the Chest of September 2015 (Volume 148, No. 3) found that this exercises can play a significant role in the management of snoring and related OSA
- Mandibular and chin advancement devices
- Use of a special facemask that helps to maintain positive airway pressure
- Surgery is considered in some cases.
Complications of OSA
Apart from the social, relationship or career effects that snoring and OSA can cause, more serious health issues can arise. The repeated breathing interruption leads to low oxygen concentration in the blood. This triggers the stress hormone, cortisol, production which affects the functioning of the heart. There is increased risk of high blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat rhythm and stroke. The risk of diabetes is also increased.
What you can do about snoring and OSA
If you are concerned about interrupted sleep, snoring, or even known sleep apnea our physicians can help complete an evaluation with you to get treatment underway. Make an appointment today and start the journey to peaceful and restful sleep.