What is sleep apnea ?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops suddenly during sleep. The prevalence of the disease, which is common in our country, is between 5 and 10%. However, not every respiratory arrest seen during sleep is sleep apnea. In order to call a respiratory disorder sleep apnea, the respiratory arrest must be at least 10 seconds. There are different subtypes of the condition. Symptoms of the disease may vary depending on the type of apnea.
How can sleep apnea be diagnosed ?
In order to diagnose the disease, your doctor will first question your complaints in detail. Afterwards, he performs a general examination and an ear nose throat examination. The upper airways are examined through a flexible cannula with a camera at the end called flexible emdoscopy. Airways are visualized and strictures are evaluated with radiological examinations such as MRI and CT.
If necessary, the patient is hospitalized in the sleep center and subjected to a more detailed evaluation. In order to make a definitive diagnosis of the disease, a sleep analysis test called polysomnography is required. This test measures the duration and number of breathing pauses. In addition, it can provide information such as heart rhythm, blood oxygen percentage, snoring sound intensity.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea ?
Obstructive and central sleep apnea syndrome symptoms are similar. This sometimes makes it difficult to determine the sleep apnea form. Common symptoms seen in both forms;
- Loud snoring (usually more pronounced in obstructive sleep apnea.)
- Episodes of sleep deprivation witnessed by someone else
- Sudden awakenings from sleep (mostly in central sleep apnea)
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up in the morning
- Morning headaches
- Depressed mood
- Attention problems
What is the main reason for sleep apnea ? What causes sleep apnea ?
Causes of sleep apnea differ in obstructive and central forms.
Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
- excess weight
- male gender
- a thick neck (men with neck circumference over 43 centimeters are at risk.)
- have narrow airways
- use of sleeping pills or sedatives
- alcohol and smoking
- blocked nose for various reasons
- hereditary predisposition to sleep apnea
Causes of central sleep apnea
- Brain infection called encephalitis
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain stem problems
- Heart diseases
- Using narcoric pain relievers
How can sleep apnea be cured ?
Sleep apnea treatments are listed as lifestyle changes, surgical treatments and positive air pressure according to the level of the disease. It is essential to get rid of excess weight, if any, in treatment. Smoking and alcohol use should be avoided.
Severe strictures in the upper respiratory tract may require surgical treatment. For the treatment of advanced sleep apnea, a sleep apnea device called CPAP is used, which gives positive air pressure. These devices prevent apnea by keeping the upper airways constantly open during sleep. The device is used with a silicone air mask. Thus, snoring treatment is also provided.
If you wake up breathless in the middle of the night and feel like you’re stuffy. If you have been feeling tired for a long time. Or, if your partner tells you that you snore loudly every night and you often stop breathing during your sleep, you can request a healthcare facility to be evaluated for sleep apnea.
What does sleep apnea mean in medical terms ?