You’ve likely heard of sleep apnea. Your ear, nose and throat doctor may have suggested you have sleep apnea. Though you’ve heard the term, you probably have the following questions:
The Ear, Nose and Throat Center of Salt Lake City has detailed answers for each of these questions and we work with our patients in Utah sleep apnea patients daily to help them overcome this condition.
Approximately 20 to 50 million people in the United States have sleep apnea. Of that number, approximately 9-percent to 20-percent of apnea sufferers are men while 4 to 9-percent are women. Yet it’s estimated that as many as 80-percent of sleep apnea patients are undiagnosed and untreated.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder wherein you actually start and stop breathing repeatedly as you sleep. In some cases, we’ve seen patients who will stop breathing for up to one minute or longer before breathing resumes—often with a gasp. Those constant sleep disruptions impede your ability to sleep soundly and awaken refreshed. As a result, sleep apnea sufferers often feel tired and lethargic even after a “full night’s rest.
Interestingly, nearly everyone has brief episodes of apnea, or pauses in breathing, during sleep. The situation becomes serious when apnea episodes become regular and prolonged.
Two Types of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea – This is the most common form of sleep apnea and is described as obstructive sleep apnea because the soft tissue in the throat collapses during sleep and constricts the flow of air through the throat. This leads to a “choking” sensation and a lack of breathing, which ultimately results in fitful sleeping where the apnea sufferer starts and stops breathing throughout the sleeping period.
- Central sleep apnea – Though it’s less common, central sleep apnea is equally serious because these individuals struggle with a condition wherein the brain simply doesn’t transmit the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing. As a result, breathing stops and starts as an individual sleeps.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and one that deserves your attention and should result in a visit with a trained ENT Center Physician who can help diagnose and treat sleep apnea. Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 to set up an appointment today.
Read: How We Treat Sleep Apnea