Sleep Apnea

Nov 06, 2023

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that there are 22 million people in the United States who suffer from sleep apnea – a sleep disorder in which, during sleep, there are periods of shallow breathing or pauses in breath. The periods of shallow breathing are known as hypopnea and every pause in breath, which lasts at least 10 seconds but varies in length, is known as an apnea. These episodes can occur dozens of times an hour.

The most common type of sleep apnea is known as obstructive sleep apnea defined as such because, during sleep, the muscles at the back of the throat essentially collapse in from the airway, thus blocking airflow, resulting in shallow breathing or pauses in breathing.

Less common is central sleep apnea, in which the signals from the brain that control your breathing muscles are disrupted during sleep.

The American Sleep Apnea Association also recognizes complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apneas.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a more common condition in those with obesity; a larger neck circumference puts someone at greater risk for sleep apnea. Uncontrolled sleep apnea disrupts sleep and results in low blood oxygen levels. This is a serious – and sometimes life-threatening – condition that can cause heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and even chronic heart failure.

What Are The Symptoms?
Sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose simply because the episodes happen during the night when no one witnesses the event. Some symptoms can include chronic snoring, ongoing fatigue that interrupts daily activities, sore or dry throat upon waking, headaches, difficulty concentrating, sleeplessness, depression, and mood changes. If you are concerned that you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to see a doctor who can order a comprehensive sleep study.

How Does Weight Loss Help?
If obesity is the root cause of sleep apnea, losing weight is imperative for getting healthy. In fact, research has shown that those who lose their excess weight are up to three times more likely to completely eliminate their sleep apnea; an act that can be literally life saving.

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