Can You Have Sleep Apnea If You Don T Snore – Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when you are unable to breathe while you sleep due to a blockage in your windpipe. This can happen for many reasons, from the structure of the head and neck to being overweight. When severe, OSA prevents restful sleep. It can also contribute to serious or life-threatening conditions.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a blockage in your airway prevents air from entering your windpipe while you sleep. The blockage and lack of airflow can cause oxygen levels in your blood to drop, which triggers a survival reflex in your brain that wakes you up enough to breathe again.
Can You Have Sleep Apnea If You Don T Snore
While this reflex is key to keeping you breathing, it also interferes with your sleep. As there are more disturbances in your sleep, your sleep quality decreases. This can lead to a wide range of symptoms, many of which are bothersome or potentially dangerous.
Side Effects Of Sleep Apnea
OSA is uncommon but common. Experts estimate that it affects about 5% to 10% of people worldwide. In older adults (65 years and older), it is more common, rising to 20% or more. However, it’s common for people not to realize they have the condition, so experts aren’t sure about the true extent of the problem.
When learning about OSA, it is helpful to know how the human sleep cycle works. The sleep cycle occurs in several stages:
Sleep stages also occur in a certain sequence. When you sleep you usually go to Level 1 and then go in and alternate between Levels 2 and 3. After that you go into REM sleep and start dreaming. After the first cycle of REM, you start a new cycle and go back to stage 1 or 2. One round usually lasts about 90-110 minutes before the next starts. Most people do four or five cycles a night (assuming they have a full eight hours).
The word “apnea” comes from the Greek and means “breathing”. Obstructive sleep apnea means that it occurs because of a blockage or obstruction. OSA usually occurs due to the way your body’s muscles relax as you go through the different stages of sleep. When the muscles relax, the surrounding soft tissue relaxes due to gravity.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
As the soft tissues in the head and neck relax and flex, they can press on the trachea, blocking the passage of air. Think of it as holding the edge between your thumb and index finger. The more pressure you put on the straw, the harder it will be to get the liquid to drink. Likewise, air cannot pass through the trachea unless there is enough pressure to close it. This can cause apnea or hypopnea:
Your brain can detect the drop in blood oxygen levels from apneas and hyponeas, and it has a kick reflex to keep you alive and breathing. This reflex wakes you up enough for the muscles in your head and neck to contract slightly, relieving pressure on your windpipe.
However, the downside of these events is that they also disrupt your sleep cycle. They usually occur in stage 3 and REM sleep, and it is very common for people not to remember these events. Your body will try to restart your sleep cycle once your blood oxygen levels return to normal, which means your muscles will rest again. If this causes another event, the process will repeat.
The apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) is the hourly average number of apnea or hypopnea events – the moment when a person stops breathing. The AHI is the main determinant of sleep apnea severity. The higher a person’s apnea index, the more severe the OSA. The difficulty is like this:
A Simple Snore Or Something More? Sleep Apnea And Snoring
OSA has many symptoms. Some of them occur when the person is awake, while others occur when the person is asleep.
Although OSA is more common as people age, it can still occur in children. The symptoms of OSA in children are very similar to those in adults, with a few exceptions. Childhood symptoms include:
OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and there are many factors that can contribute to or cause it. Some of these occur independently, while others can occur in combination. The following are factors that can contribute to or cause OSA:
Central sleep apnea occurs when there is a problem with the brain or nervous system that prevents the body from breathing while you sleep. While it is different from OSA, a person can develop a form that starts with mild sleep apnea and then develops the obstructive symptom of OSA. Experts call this problem sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea.
The 3 Types Of Sleep Apnea
Two main tests can help diagnose OSA. One is more common and is a safe way to diagnose the condition. One is diagnosing mild cases or confirming that a person still has OSA after certain medical procedures or physical changes. The tests are:
There are many ways to treat OSA, depending on how severe it is and what exactly is causing it. None of these are cures, but they can prevent apnea events or reduce the frequency with which they occur.
These non-medical treatments or techniques can improve or stop OSA. They are not curable, but they can reduce OSA to the point where it stops or is not severe enough to cause symptoms. These include:
Positive airway pressure is a technique that uses a special device to increase air pressure in the airways as you breathe. This method can treat sleep apnea.
How To Know If Your Snoring Is Bad Or Dangerous (and What To Do About It)
Pushing compressed air through your windpipe keeps it open so you can breathe. These devices push air through a tube that connects to a special mask that you wear over your face while you sleep. Masks can cover the nose, mouth, or both, and there are many different types and styles available.
The most popular PAP device is the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. However, there are also other types of PAP machines. These devices increase the air pressure inside your airways and lungs when you breathe and keep the surrounding tissues from compressing your breath.
OSA occurs when the soft tissues in your head or neck — especially in your mouth and jaw — press against your windpipe. Special mouth appliances can help keep the jaw and tongue in a position that keeps pressure off the trachea. Dentists and sleep medicine specialists often work together to tailor them to the people who need them.
The hypoglossal nerve (the name comes from the Greek and means “under the tongue”) is what controls the movement of your tongue. A nerve stimulator attached to the hypoglossal nerve can stimulate the nerve by moving your tongue slightly forward when you breathe in your sleep. This prevents your tongue from resting and putting pressure on your trachea when you sleep, which is one way OSA can occur.
Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea
An electrode attaches to a vein under the jaw and connects to a device implanted under the skin of the chest. You can turn on the alarm before going to sleep and turn it off after waking up. The current is strong enough to keep your tongue from resting too much, yet gentle enough not to be uncomfortable.
Nose, mouth, and throat surgery can help prevent blockages in the nose, throat, and windpipe. However, the effect of these substances on adults is usually limited and varies from person to person. This surgery includes:
People with OSA should avoid excessive alcohol consumption, frequent use of sleeping pills, or other drugs (recreational or otherwise) that cause severe discomfort. This can make OSA worse. Your doctor can talk to you about medications that can cause this and how you can avoid these effects.
Complications and side effects of treatment depend on many factors, especially the treatment itself. Your doctor is the best source of information about what you can do to reduce these side effects or avoid them if possible.
Treating Mild Sleep Apnea: Should You Consider A Cpap Device?
OSA can seriously disrupt your life and cause problems and life-threatening events (see more on this in the Outlook/Prognosis section below). This means you shouldn’t try to self-diagnose or treat yourself. If you think you have OSA, you should schedule an appointment with a specialist or ask your primary care physician for a referral.
If you suspect that you or a loved one has OSA, you can help a healthcare professional make a diagnosis. Video and audio recordings of a person sleeping, especially where you can hear breathing, can provide critical evidence that providers need to speed up the diagnostic process.
Many factors can affect how long it takes to recover or feel better when you have sleep apnea. The type of treatment you receive, especially if it is ongoing treatment such as nighttime use of a PAP machine, can also make a difference.
For some people, treatment may be enough to make them feel better quickly. To see the full benefit, some may need three to six months of overnight treatment. Your doctor can tell you more about your recovery time and when you should feel better.
Sleep Apnea: Treatment Options
Proper air pressure tools can sometimes bring their own
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