11 Jun Is Your Snoring Normal?
22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, with 80 percent of the cases undiagnosed. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which represents the great preponderance of the cases, when left untreated can lead to high blood pressure, chronic heart failure, atrial fibrillation, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems. OSA is associated with type 2 diabetes and depression; and is a factor in many traffic accidents and accidents with heavy machinery, as the result of persistent drowsiness suffered by many OSA patients before the disease is recognized and treated.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
- 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
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Complications can include:
- Daytime fatigue.The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, making severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability likely.
You might have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
You might also feel quick-tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea might perform poorly in school or have behavior problems.
- High blood pressure or heart problems.Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having obstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).
Obstructive sleep apnea might also increase your risk of recurrent heart attack, stroke and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. If you have heart disease, multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes. Having sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- Metabolic syndrome. This disorder, which includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar and an increased waist circumference, is linked to a higher risk of heart disease.
- Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea is also a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. People with sleep apnea might be more likely to have complications after major surgery because they’re prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs.
- Liver problems. People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease).
- Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest. It’s not uncommon for a partner to have to go to another room, or even to another floor of the house, to be able to sleep.
Loud snoring can indicate a potentially serious problem, but not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. Beginning in July 2021, FPA will offer Home Sleep Studies for patient convenience. Talk with your provider about whether you may qualify for a Home Sleep Study to help diagnose and treat sleep apnea.