About Sleep Apnea

Learning More About Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious disease that affects 52 million Americans. It is more prominent than both Diabetes and Asthma, and can be present in people of all body types, ages, and ethnic backgrounds. Yet, most people who have this condition remain undiagnosed and are at risk. A person suffering from sleep apnea has their breathing interrupted while sleeping for periods of time lasting from 10 seconds to over a minute in severe cases. Even worse, a patient may stop breathing hundreds of times each night! Pauses in breathing can cause the oxygen level in the bloodstream to fall. While an apnea is a completed closure of the airway associated with a reduction in flow of greater than 80%, a hypopnea is a partial closure of the airway, and is also associated with at least a 4% drop in oxygen level from an established baseline. These together make up the AHI (Apnea/Hypopnea Index). In addition to the AHI, Respiratory Effort Related Arousals (RERAs) measure the number of sub-conscience arousals that occur throughout the night. The Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI) is defined as the AHI plus the number of RERAs. These indexes are calculated as the number that occur per hour of sleep and along with other measurements are what determine the severity level of a person's sleep apnea. All of this information can be accurately measured from a home sleep testing device worn by a patient in their own home.

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Types of Sleep Apnea

At SleepQuest, we provide home care treatment for a variety of sleep disorders. Our San Francisco Bay Area based company focuses on sleep apnea, a serious disease that causes chronic exhaustion, headaches, and mood swings, among other symptoms. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, and other grave health risks. We assist patients with diagnosing and treating the two types of sleep apnea. Both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea cause repeated interruptions to a person’s breathing pattern as they sleep. These interruptions can last seconds or minutes and can occur hundreds of times every night. Although the two types of sleep apnea have similar results, their causes are completely different. Call us today for your assessment and find out which type of sleep apnea affects your rest.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the more common form of the disorder. During sleep, an OSA patient’s tongue, soft palate, and uvula fall onto the back of the throat, blocking the airway. This type of sleep apnea can be mild, moderate, or severe, with a complete blockage indicating severe OSA. As air becomes more obstructed, a patient’s blood oxygen levels will decrease, signaling the brain to wake up. A patient may not fully regain consciousness, or the interruptions may be so brief that he or she does not remember waking up. However, these repeated disruptions prevent a patient from ever reaching a deeper level of sleep.

Sleep-disordered breathing affects 34% of men and 17% of women between the ages of 30 to 70.Scientists are not sure what causes obstructive sleep apnea. Overweight, middle-aged males are most commonly affected by sleep apnea, but the disease also affects women and children of all ages and sizes. Other risk factors for sleep apnea include sleeping on the back, smoking, enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a small jaw, and certain medications. 

Peppard et al. Increased prevalence of sleep-disordered breathing in adults. Am J Epidemiology 2013 (5.17) 

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Sleep Apnea Symptoms

If you have sleep apnea, you have likely noticed several symptoms of this condition. Although sleep apnea happens while patients are sleeping, many symptoms present themselves during wakeful hours. Common symptoms and signs that you might have sleep apnea include daytime grogginess, headaches, irritability, and more. Our team can help you treat your sleep apnea so you can experience a restful night's sleep and true relief from your symptoms.

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Sleep Apnea Side Effects

Sleep apnea can have dangerous side effects that can negatively impact your health and well-being. Patients experience headaches, dry mouth, irritability, and more. It has also been linked to cardiovascular conditions, obesity, asthma, depression, eye disorders, epilepsy, and nervous system disorders. At SleepQuest, we can provide you treatment for your central and obstructive sleep apnea and help you enjoy a better quality of life.

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Sleep Apnea Causes

Sleep apnea is often caused by a narrowing of the throat, relaxed or enlarged soft palate at the back of the throat, which often also causes snoring. The nervous system responds to sleep apnea and the lack of oxygen by triggering the body to take a deep breath, producing the gasping sound heard by those who live with people with sleep apnea. Because the body is struggling for air while you sleep all night, you never really get the important restful deep sleep you need. As a result people with sleep apnea wake up still tired, often with a headache, are drowsy all day, and the condition is associated with: memory loss, higher accident rates, diabetes, weight gain (obesity), high blood pressure (Hypertension), congestive heart failure, cardiovascular disease, erectile dysfunction, stroke, and even death. If you snore or are always tired, you need to take a simple diagnostic test to find out if you have sleep apnea.

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Sleep Apnea FAQs

Whether you suspect you might have OSA or you’ve just been set-up on your first PAP device, you probably still have questions about sleep apnea. We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions from patients in all stages of their journey to wellness.

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