Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that affects more than 18 million American adults. This disorder causes our breathing to stop and start repeatedly throughout the night. This can potentially happen hundreds of times during the night, making real rest impossible!
There are two types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This more common form is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
Central Sleep Apnea. Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
We don’t always know we have sleep apnea symptoms and must depend on our bed partner to act as witness.
The most common symptoms:
Excessive daytime sleepiness. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. Additionally, when we don’t sleep, our hormones are thrown out of balance. This can contribute to irritability and previously unexplained weight gain and depression.
Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep. This is usually first noticed by your bed partner.
Loud snoring. Ask your partner!
High Blood Pressure. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. If you have underlying heart disease, these multiple episodes of low blood oxygen can lead to sudden heart failure and death.
Shortness of breath that wakes you up. Your brain and body may not be getting enough oxygen, which can lead to long term health concerns.
Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat. This is due to breathing through your mouth all night.
Frequent urination. When your breathing is disrupted, it puts pressure on the heart. This affects a hormone that normally controls urine production in the kidneys.
Other symptoms include morning headache, insomnia and attention problems.
Certain factors are out of our control such as sex, age, and family history. Sleep apnea occurs more often in men than women, more often after the age of 60, and more often if you have other members of your family who suffer from sleep apnea. It is also more prevalent in those who have a large neck circumference, or a receding chin.
Some lifestyle changes can reduce the factors that put us at risk:
Lose weight. Obesity is considered the most important risk factor of OSA. Research has shown that even modest weight loss can improve sleep apnea. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight and not everyone who is overweight develops sleep apnea.
Don’t Smoke. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are those who have never smoked. Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
Eat Heathy. Sleep deprivation may lead to increased carbohydrate cravings. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to changes in your natural appetite regulators, leptin and ghrelin, which control feelings of hunger and fullness. When you don’t sleep, you may want to eat more and feel less satisfied when you do.
Control congestion. From allergies to deviated septa, if you have nasal congestion, you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
Be heart healthy. People with atrial fibrillation or congestive heart failure are more at risk of central sleep apnea.
Know your throat. You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat. Or, your tonsils or adenoids may have become enlarged, which can block your airway.
Limit alcohol. Alcohol decreases the muscle tone in the back of the throat, which can interfere with breathing.
Turn aside. Lying on your side as opposed to your back can help keep your airways open. Sound impossible? Put a tennis ball in a sock and pin it to the back of your PJs.
As we mentioned, excess weight is the biggest factor contributing to sleep apnea. Our Radiance Medical Weight Loss program is here to help. We will design a comprehensive personalized medical weight loss program just for you. Each patient receives personalized treatment that includes:
• Body Composition Analysis
• Laboratory Testing
• Supervised Food Plans
• Metabolism Regulation
• Appetite Management
• Lifestyle and Motivation Coaching
Losing that extra weight will benefit your whole body. Not only will you reduce your risk for sleep apnea, but also for heart disease, high blood pressure, joint aches, stroke, diabetes, even cancer!
Thank you for making Radiance your beauty and wellness destination.