Though sleep apnea is a common sleep-related disorder, affecting over 18 million Americans, many people remain unclear on what exactly it is. It is easy to avoid talking about sleep apnea. You may even have friends suffering from it without your knowledge. Sleep apnea is a unique sleep disorder in that it deals with a specific physical problem. This problem stems from a blocked airway during sleep, resulting in disrupted breathing. This issue lies at the heart of the question: What is sleep apnea?
There are two types of sleep apnea, one common, the other less common. Each type has its own accompanying set of risk factors, though there is some overlap here.
Types of Sleep Apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This type is easier to find, affecting most sleep apnea patients. OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax, resulting in an obstructed airway and disrupted breathing.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
This rarer type of sleep apnea manifests as a result of interrupted signals from the brain to the breathing muscles.
Identifying the two types of sleep apnea may not adequately answer what is sleep apnea. Oftentimes, examining your symptoms can give you a better idea of what this disorder entails.
To better identify what is sleep apnea, familiarize yourself with some of the most frequently occurring symptoms, which include:
Difficulty concentrating or focusing throughout the day
Faulty memory or inability to master new information
Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
Insomnia or hypersomnia (the opposite of insomnia, involving excessive daytime fatigue
Occasional breathing stoppages during sleep
Many people may not grasp the seriousness surrounding the question what is sleep apnea? As it turns out, untreated sleep apnea can raise your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, heart attack, obesity, and diabetes. Due to daytime tiredness from sleep apnea, you may also be more prone to involvement in automobile accidents.
In addition to doctors treating sleep apnea, our sleep apnea dentist can provide patients with mouthpieces to help keep their airways open during sleep. There is no actual cure for sleep apnea, simply treatments. Be sure to consult a doctor or dentist to find the right way to treat your specific type of sleep apnea.