Updated: Jul 11
Sleep apnea is a common but serious condition in which people stop breathing in their sleep. The many breathing interruptions that occur when a person suffers from sleep apnea often sound just like regular snoring, and therefore sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose. But if someone is suffering from sleep apnea, their upper airway is repeatedly being blocked. This either reduces or completely stops the airflow from entering the body. So, what may sound like normal snoring could be your body’s way of trying to get much-needed oxygen into your system.
There are two main types of sleep apnea. The most common is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is caused by a blockage in the airway, usually in the form of the muscles in the back of the throat collapsing during sleep and thus failing to keep the airway open. The second, less common type is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). This type could be dangerous if left untreated since during CSA the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep, which could cause someone to potentially stop breathing up to hundreds of times throughout the night. This could result in the brain and the rest of the body not being able to receive enough oxygen. When left untreated, sleep apnea of any kind could increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes. It’s a common myth that sleep apnea mostly affects males, however, in a study of adults who saw a doctor for sleep problems, 88 percent were women who snored.
A Good Night’s Sleep Benefits
The benefits of a good night of sleep cannot be overlooked. Sleep helps to reduce stress and lower blood pressure. It improves memory and helps your body fight a cold; it lifts your mood, keeps your heart healthy and reduces your chance of getting diabetes and other conditions.
Getting enough sleep also helps your body maintain a healthy weight. Sleep and weight have long been linked by scientists and doctors. For the most part, the fewer hours people sleep, the more they weigh.
One study of almost 70,000 women who were followed for 16 years showed that the women who slept only five hours per night were 32 percent more likely to have excess weight on their body than women who slept at least 7 hours per night.
When To See An ENT Doctor
As noted earlier, sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, so it is best to see an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist immediately if you or a loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms. These include loud snoring, choking sounds or gasping for air during sleep. Most sufferers of sleep apnea don’t even know that they’re having any breathing problems during their sleep. At ENT Specialists, we provide our patients with comprehensive snoring and sleep disorder evaluations to diagnose and provide care. If you think you or a family member may be suffering from sleep apnea, get checked by an ENT Specialist so you can begin treatment. Sleep is essential to life-make sure you’re getting enough of it.