Virtually all people that have sleep apnea snore, but not all snorers have sleep apnea. Because sleep is repeatedly interrupted during the night you never get a full night's sleep, and day-time sleepiness is a second major indication. Other indications include falling asleep during the day, automobile accidents or accidents on the job due to tiredness or exhaustion, changes in personality, mental fatigue resulting in difficulty in thinking and concentrating, frequent nocturnal urination, and high blood pressure with the attendant increased risks of heart attack and stroke. Suspect you have sleep apnea if your spouse reports that your stoppage of breathing, gasps, choking, and your attempts to start breathing again "scare her to death."
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is far more common than central sleep apnea . OSA occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person’s nose or mouth, although efforts to breathe continue. In a given night, the number of involuntary breathing pauses – or “apneic events” – may be as high as 20 to 60 or more per hour. Snoring and choking between apneic events is common, although not everyone who snores has OSA. The frequent interruptions of deep, restorative sleep often lead to excessive daytime sleepiness and may be associated with early morning headache.
OSA occurs in all age groups and both sexes but is more common in men (it may be underdiagnosed in women). Early recognition and treatment is important because OSA may be associated with irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.
- Once diagnosed, OSA is often managed through the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine or dental appliances that reposition the lower jaw and the tongue. Rates of OSA are 2x-4x higher after age of 50.
- Mild to moderate sleep apnea patients are the most likely not to be screened.
- Untreated sleep apnea can put you at increased risk of developing:
- Heart disease
Source: National Sleep Foundation