Sleep Apnea: a Common Nighttime Breathing Disorder with Well-Defined Diagnostic Criteria and Effective Treatment Available
Sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness and is more prevalent in middle-aged and older men, as well as in those who are overweight or obese.
Loud snoring and gasping during sleep typically mark sleep apnea. Doctors clearly distinguish between sleep apnea and simple snoring, which is much more widely prevalent.
Sleep apnea can have a central nervous system basis or, more commonly, result from obstruction. In obstructive sleep apnea episodes, the tongue as well as the muscles and tissues at the back of an individual’s mouth and in the pharynx become so relaxed that they collapse together, cutting off air flow necessary for breathing. In brief, repeating cycles during extended periods of the night, the individual’s breaths become blocked momentarily stopping normal breathing. This disrupts sleep when blood oxygen briefly drops low enough for the brain to signal the body to partially awaken and begin breathing again.
The repetition of this pattern many times per
night is particularly pronounced in, and disruptive to, REM (rapid eye movement or dream) sleep, when a sleeper’s body becomes most relaxed. This also leads to additional stress in normal physical and mental function when REM
time is decreased, night after night.
Apnea is also under study for its suspected role in triggering cardiac events in patients with coronary artery disease or cardiac arrhythmia. In addition, sleep apnea is associated with diabetes and obesity.
Sleep apnea is readily treatable, most often with a nighttime breathing-assist system called CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure). Aria’s sleep medicine specialists can discuss and help arrange for this treatment with patients.
To learn more about Aria’s Sleep Diagnostic Centers, call 215-671-0712.
For evaluation by a sleep specialist physician, call 215-612-8500.
To schedule a sleep study, call 1-877-808-ARIA (2742).
Learn more about evaluation and care
at Aria’s Sleep Diagnostic Centers.