Sleep apnea is a disorder marked by one or more pauses in breathing during sleep; however, breathing typically resumes and may be accompanied by choking or gasping. This is a common disorder that can affect any age group, but adult men are more likely than women to have sleep apnea. However, most people who have it do not know because it occurs during sleep.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud and chronic snoring with pauses. Other symptoms include morning headaches, memory or learning problems, feeling irritable or depressed, waking up often to urinate during sleep, and dry mouth or sore throat after waking up.
The two types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive – more common and occurs when the throat muscles relax causing a blockage in the airway.
- Central – less common and occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking may be prescribed. If these changes are not successful, further treatment includes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This relies on a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask during sleep and is used to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea. Another option may be an oral appliance that holds the throat open during sleep. If these treatments are not successful, surgery or other therapies may help.
If you or someone you care for has symptoms of apnea, it’s important to see a doctor. Research has shown that untreated sleep apnea impacts cardiovascular health. Please contact us at (717) 728-9700 to schedule an appointment.