What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common and sometimes serious sleep disorder that results in breathing being interrupted repeatedly during sleep. If you are tired after a night of sleep and are told that you snore loudly, you may have sleep apnea. The condition could be causing you to stop breathing 30 times or more per hour throughout the night and hinder you from reaching the deep stages of sleep required for proper rest.
Types of Sleep Apnea and Risk Factors
The three main types of sleep apnea include Obstructive, Central and Complex.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most common type, Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when throat muscles which support the soft palette relax and close off the airway as you breathe in. When your brain detects that you are unable to breathe you wake up, and this can happen repeatedly throughout the night.
The risk factors for Obstructive sleep apnea are obesity, being male, being older, a familial history of sleep apnea, use of alcohol or sedatives, smoking, nasal congestion and having a narrow throat due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids.
Central Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea is the less common type and arises when your brain does not transmit signals to your breathing muscles, and you stop breathing momentarily. This will cause you to wake up short of breath, and impair your sleep throughout the night.
The risk factors for Central sleep apnea include being older, being male, heart disorders, use of narcotic pain medication and stroke.
Complex Sleep Apnea
Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea with overlapping symptoms sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The most common signs and symptoms of both types of sleep apneas are:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air while asleep
- Cessation of breathing during sleep as reported by another person
- Morning Headache
- Dry mouth upon waking
- Daytime sleepiness
- Inability to focus while awake
Complications of Sleep Apnea
Complications from sleep apnea can be serious and may include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Chronic daytime fatigue
- Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Liver problems
- Complications with medications and surgery
- Increased risk of dementia
- Increased risk of cancer
- Decreased quality of life from fatigue
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea your doctor may diagnose it based on your medical history, a physical exam and a sleep study. Sleep studies are often performed in a lab or in your home, and your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment based on the results.
Treatments Available for Sleep Apnea
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may be referred to an ear, nose and throat doctor to rule out blockage in your nose and throat, which can require surgical removal of tissue. Patients with central sleep apnea may be referred for evaluation by a cardiologist and/or a neurologist to look for causes.
For milder cases of sleep apnea, your condition may improve through lifestyle changes such as losing weight, cessation of smoking and treatment of allergies.
Other therapies include CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a machine that delivers air through a mask while you sleep and keeps your upper airway passages open. Oral appliances are another option that is available through your dentist. They are designed to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward relieving mild obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.
Nightlase Lightwalker Laser Snoring and Sleep Apnea Treatment
Dr. John Cancelliere employs laser therapy for snoring and apnea, specifically Lightwalker laser therapy, a non-invasive, patient-friendly laser treatment for increasing the quality of your sleep. NightLase reduces the effects of sleep apnea and decreases the amplitude of snoring by means of a gentle, laser-induced tightening effect caused by the contraction of collagen in the oral mucosa tissue.
A full course of NightLase LightWalker consists of three separate treatment sessions over a six week period. The final results of the treatment have been shown to last up to a year, and the therapy can be repeated.Patients find NightLase to be a highly comfortable and satisfying solution. NightLase requires no device to be worn during sleep and involves no chemical treatment. It’s a gentle and easy way for you to regain a good night’s rest.
Learn more about Nightlase Lightwalker treatment for Sleep Apnea