Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, which is characterised by repetitive cessation in breathing for upto 10 seconds or more, during sleep, due to collapse of the upper airway or excessive relaxation of airway muscles. Such complete cessation of breathing is called Apnea or reduced breathing is called Hypopnea, both of these cause improper oxygenation during sleep.

This stoppage of breathing can happen hundreds of times a night and can leave you feeling like you have not slept at all, despite having a full night's sleep. During this time, with reduction in oxygen levels in the blood, body and organs like brain, heart etc do not get adequate oxygen, this can increase your risk for high blood pressure, heart problems, coronary artery disease, diabetes etc.

The reduction in blood oxygen levels also causes your body to wake up frequently and you may make a gasping, snorting or choking sound to try and catch your breath. Since the snorer does not get good rest, they may be sleepy during the day, which decreases their performance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Are the Symptoms of OSA?

Symptoms associated with OSA can include:

  1. Loud snoring
  2. Pauses in breathing during sleep
  3. Waking up gasping or choking
  4. Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
  5. Excessive Daytime Sleepiness or fatigue
  6. Frequent nighttime urination
  7. Morning headache
  8. Fragmented, non-refreshing sleep
  9. Difficulty staying asleep which often result in intermittent or chronic Insomnia
  10. Irritability, mood changes, depression,
  11. Difficulty concentrating, attention problems
  12. High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, or other cardiac issues
  13. Decreased sex drive

What are the effects of apnea on our body?

Every time you have apneic events there will be lack of proper oxygenation to the cells, there will also be a release of stress hormones in our body. Many episodes of apnea can happen each night, placing stress on our heart and brain. Our sleep is also disrupted because apneas are accompanied by mini-arousals.

When we have insufficient sleep, we feel tired the next day. This affects our work, concentration, memory and relationships with other people. There is also an increased risk of having a motor accident.

What are the factors that increase risk of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

  1. Snoring
  2. Alcohol, sedative medication
  3. Excessive bulkiness of throat tissue
  4. Large tonsils or adenoids
  5. Large tongue, Small jaw bone
  6. Elongated soft palate
  7. Age and gender- OSA is more common in men. After age 50, both men and women are more susceptible to OSA
  8. Hypothyroidism
  9. Smoking

Why is sleep apnea a serious or potentially life-threatening disease?

Sleep apnea can cause or worsen the following medical problems: High Blood pressure that may be difficult to control even with medication, Increased risk for heart attack , arrythmias (irregular heart rate) and stroke

I do not snore, could I still have Sleep Apnea?

The word apnea means "without breath" and that’s exactly what Sleep Apnea sufferers are periodically doing throughout the night.

In certain types of Apneas, people may not exhibit snoring or gasping, for example, People with central apnea may not snore.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea needs to be done with an overnight polysomnogram (PSG), a sleep study which measures various physiological functions during the stages of sleep. The results are then evaluated by a sleep specialist, a diagnosis is made and a treatment plan is proposed.

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits, although a screening questionnaire will be helpful to assess symptoms and risk factors.

What are the problems associated with Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

1. Medical Problems

Sleep Apnea disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of adequate rest, which can lead to serious, long-term health problems like

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Impotence
  • Acid Reflux
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Impotency and sexual dysfunction
  • Brain and cognitive changes

2. Work Problems

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
  • Fatigue
  • Falling asleep during important meetings
  • Low work concentration
  • Poor work performance and productivity
  • Impaired memory
  • Irritability or depression

3. Social Problems

  • Snoring - Adults or kids that snore can become an object of ridicule
  • Marital discord – Spouse of a snorer is unable to sleep
  • People with Sleep Apnea have decreased libido.
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Sleep apnea has been found to be one of the major reasons of motor vehicle accidents

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome

Upper airway resistance syndrome is a sleep disorder where there is an exaggerated breathing effort and snoring, created by high resistance to airflow in the upper airway. Although sleep study may not show significant apneic or hypopneic events, nonetheless, a person with UARS may experience symptoms similar to sleep apnea. They also experience symptoms such as disturbed or fragmented sleep, fatigue, significant daytime drowsiness and sometimes present with headaches, temporomandibular joint or muscle pain. A comprehensive multi-speciality evaluation and therapy will be done for such cases at NKs Snoring and Sleep Apnea Center.

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep Bruxism is a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth during sleep. Many sleep specialists considered sleep bruxism as a Sleep related Movement disorder. People who brux during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea and it is advisable to review their sleep history and conduct a sleep study for them. Untreated cases of Sleep bruxism could lead to jaw, neck, face or TMJ pain, headaches, damaged teeth, teeth sensitivity and other problems