An apnea episode occurs whenever you stop breathing. Sleep apnea involves involuntary stoppages of breath while you sleep. By far, the most common type of apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Scientists estimate that more than 30 million Americans suffer from OSA, but nine out of ten victims do not recognize or ignore the symptoms, and never receive the help they need.
OSA is caused by blockages in the airway leading to the lungs. Sometimes, these blockages are created when the tongue falls backward and blocks the entrance to the throat. Another common cause is the collapse of soft tissues within the airway. This happens when the surrounding muscles relax during sleep and do not hold the airway open. This type of blockage becomes worse in people with enlarged glands or who have too much fatty tissue in the back of the mouth and throat. Thus, OSA is more prevalent among overweight and obese persons, and with older adults who may have less muscle tone.
OSA can afflict persons of all ages, including children, and it causes the same problems for all victims. When breathing is stopped by a blockage, the body is deprived of fresh oxygen, and carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs. As this continues, blood oxygen levels plummet, so the body’s subconscious reflexes kick into survival mode. A jolt of adrenaline hormones are released, and the sleeper is momentarily pulled from sleep to gasp for air and resume breathing.
Because these interruptions are very brief, the sleeper often does not recall being awakened. This pattern of sleep, pause, gasp, and wake can take place dozens to hundreds of times a night. Although the pattern is often obvious and annoying to a bed partner, the person suffering from OSA may wake in the morning thinking they have slept through the night.
Sleep apnea threatens your health and requires solutions! We provide the solutions at our downtown Sacramento office on 1105 E Street. Contact us through our website, call us at 916-538-6900 or stop by to identify and rectify your sleepless nights!