Roughly 22 million Americans suffer with sleep apnea – the cessation of breathing while sleeping. It is a fairly under-recognized disease with life-damaging and life-shortening consequences. Much can be done for the cause of education regarding sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Overview
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder, caused by a lack of breathing during sleep. There are three types of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when your airway is blocked as the tongue collapses against the soft palate, closing the airway.
Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.
Complex Sleep Apnea is a combination of two separate sleep apnea conditions that rouses the sleeper to partially signal breathing to resume.
- Gasping for air
- Choking during sleep
- Loud snoring
- Painful and inexplicable headaches in the morning
- Waking up with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Memory problems and difficulty concentrating
Positive airway pressure machines seem to be the most effective treatment option, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. Other treatment options include weight loss, avoiding sleeping on one’s back, nighttime dental devices that push the lower jaw or tongue forward to prevent the tongue and soft palate from falling.
For more information on sleep apnea and its treatments, visit www.sleepapnea.org.