If they don’t snore themselves, everyone at least knows someone who does. As a matter of fact, a startling 25 percent of all adults snore on a regular basis according to a recent study by the National Sleep Foundation. In the U.S. alone, 90 million are habitual snorers and as a result of lifestyle changes in the country, that number is only growing.
This sleep-disrupting nightly habit can have many causes; typically though, snoring is caused by some form of breathing deficit that can range from seasonal allergies to a more physical issue. When your breathing is obstructed by a physiological issue, then sleep apnea is typically the cause of your snoring.
What exactly is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that should be controlled by professional medical treatment because leaving the condition untreated can lead to serious health issues. This nighttime condition directly affects your nightly breathing, so you might imagine how important it is to control. If you are breathing irregularly during the night, your sleep cycle will also be disrupted which can lead to waking issues as well as health problems. This condition can range in severity, but it’s possible that a sleep apnea sufferer can stop breathing hundreds of times during a sleep period.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are several types of sleep apnea. These include:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This form of sleep apnea, which is also simply called OSA is the most physical version of the condition. It is also the most common version of the condition, with an estimated 18 million adult sufferers. As you might imagine from its name, this form of the sleep disorder is the result of an obstruction in your airway that makes it hard for you to breathe at night. This breathing irregularity doesn’t typically occur in your waking day, but occurs as a result of the breathing patterns, soft tissue relaxation, and prone positioning of your sleep cycle. The obstructive organs that cause this version of the overarching condition can be the tongue, enlarged or inflamed adenoids, swollen tonsils, or the uvula.
OSA can also be caused by lesser obstructions as well. This version of the sleep disorder is referred to as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS). UARS is often mistaken for traditional OSA because of its similar symptoms. This version of the condition can be corrected or treated with surgery or sleep apnea machines. For example, if the tongue is the cause of the obstruction, some medical professionals recommend a procedure that removes a small part of the organ called uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.
Central Sleep Apnea
This form of the sleep disorder is actually caused by a neurological issue and is the form of sleep apnea that is actually not caused by a physical obstruction. The “central” in central sleep apnea refers to your central nervous system. This version of the condition is actually caused by your brain not sending the appropriate autonomic signals to your respiratory system that allow you to breathe. Typically, this form of sleep apnea is the result of heart failure or a stroke, so this type of disorder is significantly more dangerous than the obstructive type. Interestingly enough, sleeping at high altitudes can also cause this version of the sleep disorder, but this is much rarer than the other type. Treatment for this version of sleep apnea can range from the usage of a sleep apnea machine or supplemental oxygen.
Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome
The final form of this dangerous condition is actually a combination of the previous two forms. This complex version can occur as a result of having obstructive sleep apnea with the onset of central due to a heart attack or stroke. This version of the condition is often called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea or mixed sleep apnea.
As a matter of fact, this form of sleep apnea can actually develop when patients who suffer the obstructive version who use a CPAP (sleep apnea) machine undergo PAP therapy. This phenomenon has only recently been researched and given its own classification.
Who’s At Risk for Sleep Apnea?
As we’ve already established the risk factors for the more rare types, let’s take a look at who is at risk for the obstructive version of the disorder. There is a misconception that only obese people will develop sleep apnea; but as a matter of fact, anyone can be affected by the disorder, regardless of age, sleeping habits, healthiness, or respiratory condition.
This being said, there are risk factors for sleep apnea that can contribute to someone developing the condition. People of heightened weight are at risk for the condition as are those over 40 years of age. If your neck is more than 17 inches in diameter as a male or 16 inches for a female, you have a heightened risk factor of developing these breathing difficulties.
Genetic predisposition also can be a contributing factor for the condition. If you have a larger tongue, tonsils, uvula, adenoids, or an undersized jaw bone, you can also develop the obstructive version of the condition.
What You Should Do
If you or your partner notices that you regularly snore, it’s a wise choice to reach out to the medical professional in your life to verify if you are a sleep apnea sufferer. Dr. Jamali is an expert on the disorder who can help diagnose and treat this condition. Untreated sleep apnea can have devastating effects on your life. The disruption in your sleep cycle that this condition can cause can lead to lessened concentration, depression, constant headaches, and heightened ADHD.
Sleep apnea can even cause high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart failure if it’s not treated correctly. A doctor can relieve many, if not all of the symptoms of this condition, which will restore normalcy to your sleep cycle. If obesity is the cause of your condition, then leading a healthier lifestyle should greatly decrease your symptoms.
There are several ways to deal with this condition and Dr. Majid Jamali is an expert in all of them. He is even an expert in Orthognathic surgery, which is a type of reconstructive surgery that will realign your jaw and allow you to breathe without obstructions. Eliminating the problem using this surgery is the fastest way to experience sleep relief. If you are worried about sleep apnea, he serves all of the boroughs of New York City, so call him at 212-480-2777 to set up a consultation. Once you’re ready to come in, the Maxillofacial Surgery of New York is located at 42 Broadway, Suite 1501, New York, NY 10004.