Do you know the difference between snoring and sleep apnea?

Posted by DrJelinek | Filed under , ,

Snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Snoring alone can be disruptive and a nuisance. Snoring + sleep apnea can be life threatening. 

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that temporarily causes breathing to be suspended during sleep. A physical obstruction happens in the airway which limits the amount of oxygen needed to reach the lungs. In the process of attempting to breathe again due to the obstruction, loud snoring or choking noises are heard. 

The oxygen deprivation momentarily awakens a person from sleep. The cycle of waking and falling back to sleep is repeated a few times or hundreds of times throughout the night. The lack of oxygen can have long-term damaging effects such as the development of: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, pre-diabetes and diabetes and depression.

The airway obstruction is actually collapsing tissue in the back of the throat. This can be a result of the muscles of the upper airway relaxing during sleep. In “back sleepers” gravity can sometimes cause the tongue to fall back and obstruct the airway as well. In both situations the airway is narrowed or completely obstructed. 

Snoring happens when the extra tissue in the back of the throat vibrates during the flow of breathing which produces the sounds of snoring. It is estimated that about 50% of people snore at some point during their lives. Snoring can be heredity and can increase as age advances. Occasional congestion from cold or allergies may also cause snoring.

Many people with sleep apnea suffer from issues of chronic fatigue, lack of concentration or focus. These are due to “unrestful” sleep resulting from the body unconsciously and repeatedly being awakened during the night because of the struggle for oxygen.  

If you are unsure if the snoring you hear from a loved one is sleep apnea, look for correlating indicators such as excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping during sleep, pauses in breathing, morning headaches, difficulty concentrating, moodiness, irritability or depression and possibly frequent trips to the bathroom at night. 

Testing for a sleep breathing disorder is critical to getting a loved one on the path of better health. If you or someone you know experiences any of the other symptoms or indicators that may suggestion the play of sleep apnea, please contact us immediately for help. 

Remember that while snoring is annoying, sleep apnea is life threatening.

Women Snore Too - Sleep Apnea Found In Women

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For years we have known sleep apnea to be predominantly common in males rather than females. Therefore the common belief has been that the sleep breathing disorder affects mostly men and a small percentage of women. However, when a recent Swedish report released a medical finding showing the frequency of sleep apnea in women was much higher than what we thought, many were surprised by the data.

The research team working on the study randomly sampled 400 out of 10,000 women with ages ranging from 20 to 70. The results quantified that 50% of women scored within at least the mild range of sleep apnea! This new data containing the sleep apnea frequency found in women has gained the attention of many in the sleep industry.

The study was led by Karl A. Franklin, MD, PhD, from the Department of Surgical and Perioperative Sciences at Umeå University in Sweden. The report also indicated that within the group of women with sleep apnea, 20% percent had moderate sleep apnea and 6% had severe sleep apnea. The research further concluded that the age bracket distribution was not equal, nor was the distribution within the varying weight ranges.

Evidence from the report showed that sleep apnea was related to age, obesity and hypertension but not to daytime sleepiness. From the overall sampling, 84% of the obese women, between the ages of 50-70, had some form of sleep apnea. In addition, 80% of the women with high blood pressure, between the ages of 55-70, were also found to have sleep apnea – either mild, moderate, or severe.

The women’s sleep study was published August 16 in the European Respiratory Journal. Information was unavailable regarding funding and possible conflicts of interest.  Regardless of the source, the reality is, women have been overlooked as sleep apnea sufferers for too long. 

With snoring as the number one sign for sleep apnea, this led us to another related thought. Does the problem in acknowledging women as sleep apnea sufferers, lie partially within the female population?

When was the last time you asked a female if she possibly snored at night? You might as well go ahead and ask about her weight. Very few women openly admit to snoring and that’s a huge problem. It’s like admitting to passing gas, owning serious pushup bras, or even worse – admitting to their real age!

When women do admit to snoring it’s always sugar coated and almost apologetic. I once heard a woman answering the snoring question like this: “Oh yes, sorry. I do snore but not terribly. I snore gently.” WHAT? Was that a desperate effort to retain a sense of dignity and a lady-like image? 

Why do several women feel the same way about answering a snoring question, especially since we know snoring can be the alarm to a much bigger health problem such as sleep apnea? We know snoring KILLS so why do we still tip toe around the discussion? The question is not, “Do you sound like a dying warthog at night?” It is, DO YOU SNORE?

If you’re wondering what snoring has to do with sleep apnea, take a look at our Do You Snore blog: http://sleeptest.com/blog/do-you-snore.html

We know that sleep apnea sufferers experience repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, causing multiple awakenings. What many of us are still unaware of is that the pauses in breath lower the saturation of oxygen in your blood. This can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of many heart-related diseases. In addition, sleep awakenings cause acute surges in blood pressure and heart rate, further increasing stress on the heart. 

In people with sleep apnea, the cardiac rest achieved in normal and proper sleep is not possible. This is the most alarming component of sleep apnea, since it can lead to complications such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, dementia, high blood pressure, depression, weight gain, and many other health issues.

If you have a loved one who experiences any sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, gasping for air during sleep, daytime fatigue, or has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea but is possibly CPAP intolerant, please call our office immediately for a consultation with a doctor. Within a few minutes you could be on your way to helping a friend or family member and possibly even saving a life. 

 

Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea - Toll It Takes On Your Body

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Untreated sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have devastating effects on the body and mind. Sleep apnea's most noticeable side effect is leaving the person feeling drowsy and fatigued throughout the day. A person may feel as if he/she is never able to get a good night's rest no matter how long one "sleeps". This is because people with sleep apnea stop breathing at night, anywhere from a few seconds up to minutes at a time. Therefore, a person is never able to engage in the deeper levels of sleep, such as the REM and Delta stages.

Sleep apnea causes a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood which causes the heart to pump harder when trying to remove the carbon dioxide. In return, this causes a significant amount of stress on the heart. When untreated, sleep apnea can increase the chances of stroke, high blood pressure, and pulmonary hypertension. Many sleep apnea candidates have high blood pressure due to the extra work the heart has to perform in order to compensate for the lack of oxygen. If the condition is never treated, the strength of the heart begins to deteriorate and the heart pumps blood at a lower force than what the body needs.

Typically the heart is the first organ that experiences and shows signs of untreated sleep apnea. According to Neomi Shah, MD, at Yale University, having untreated sleep apnea for 4-5 years raises a person's risk of having a heart attack and death by 30%.

While the heart is the most important concern as far as the effects of sleep apnea, other areas of your body and life can be affected as well. Many people who go through life with untreated sleep apnea are far more accident prone than those who have proper sleep at night. This is because sleep apnea patients can wake up hundreds of times per night fighting to catch their breath. They constantly feel tired and have trouble focusing during the day which leads to higher rates of accidents. Patients with sleep apnea have decreased reflex time due to the lack of energy. The reflexes and hand-eye coordination depend greatly on being well rested enough to focus.

There is a growing awareness of sleep apnea contributing to a wide range of health problems. By seeking medical attention and treating sleep apnea, you will not only feel better and more energized, but you’ll also be decreasing the chances of other health problems in the future.

If you think you or your partner may have sleep apnea, please contact our office immediately so we can schedule an appointment and take the necessary next steps to treat this deadly disease.

 

Sleep Apnea - Links To Depression

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Feeling sad every now and then is a fundamental part of the human experience, especially during difficult or trying times.  In contrast, persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, hopelessness and disinterest in things that were once enjoyed are symptoms of depression.  This illness affects many Americans, many of whom have sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you experience pausing in your breathing while you sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructed Sleep Apnea (OSA), where there’s an obstruction in the upper airway.

Recent medical findings show sleep apnea linked to clinical depression.  These findings also conclude that depressed individuals may find relief through treatment of the sleep disorder.  Anne G. Wheaton, an epidemiologist with CDC (Center for Disease Control) has stated, "snorting, gasping or stopping one’s breathing while asleep, all signs of OSA was associated with nearly all depression symptoms, including feeling hopeless and feeling like a failure."  This information prompted her to conduct a study to find the correlation between depression and sleep apnea.
 
Wheaton's approach was two-fold.  First, her team asked many adults how frequently they snorted, gasped, or had pauses in their breathing while they were asleep.  Then, the team assessed the adults’ emotional health with a standard test for depression.  Six percent of the men and three percent of the women had already been diagnosed with sleep apnea by their doctors.  Over a third of the men and about a fifth of the women reported snoring more than five times a week.  The researchers found that the men with sleep apnea were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression, while women with sleep apnea were five times as likely to show signs of depression.
 
Among older adults, higher rates of depression and sleep problems may be explained in part by higher rates of physical illness.  Among women, motherhood and hormonal changes throughout the life cycle (menstruation, menopause) may contribute to higher rates of depression.  Higher rates of depression may also be explained by higher rates of sleep disorders within these groups.
 
Wheaton’s study concluded that men and women who reported stoppage of breath during sleep more than five times a week had triple the risk of being depressed.  This new information provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and depression.  The symptom of depression can now be added to a long line of health hazards associated with OSA.

Daily studies are reporting more and more indicators of both psychological and physical health issues linked with obstructed sleep apnea.  If you or a loved one experience snorting or stopping breathing during sleep, please seek medical help immediately.  Take a quick and easy free evaluation available at our office or online at sleeptest.com to see if you could be a candidate for sleep apnea.


 

Sleep Apnea - A Silent Killer

Posted by DrJelinek | Filed under ,

When tragedy strikes, people across the country are left asking a similar question, “Could I have done anything to save my loved one?” Undoubtedly these thoughts reside with everyone at some point during the painful grieving process. Is there anything we can do?

 

This discussion is dedicated to all family and friends that have passed away from a silent killer known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a physical obstruction in the airway causing a person to stop breathing several times throughout the night. In examining and categorizing overall health, we began by turning to a popular television program familiar with sleep apnea and obesity as an American epidemic -- The Biggest Loser. The physicians working with this show succinctly organize health into four pillars: psychological well-being, healthy eating, healthy exercise, and sleep. When the fourth pillar (sleep) is not properly achieved, it severely impacts the success of the other three. Without the proper sleep, your psychological wellness, nutrition, and exercise don’t stand a chance. The reality is that we spend about one third of our life sleeping. Our bodies absolutely need that time of rest so we have the energy and focus to live healthy and balanced lives. If you suffer from even mild sleep apnea, your body is not attaining the ideal rest and rejuvenation it needs, leaving you fatigued all day long. Continuous feelings of exhaustion can trickle down to hormonal imbalance, which leads to poor nutritional choices and cravings, depression, and a lack of energy needed for sustaining exercise routines. With this information, it is easy to understand how a deficiency of proper sleep affects all your pillars of health, as outlined by the physicians of The Biggest Loser program.


One of the greatest dangers of sleep apnea is the physical strain it puts on your organs, specifically the heart. The medical description for normal and proper sleep is defined as “a decreased sympathetic activity which lowers heart rate and blood pressure creating a period of cardiac rest."  When your heart never experiences the rest it needs, extra stress is placed on the heart walls, which can lead to a fatal and life-threatening situation. It is well known that sleep apnea sufferers experience repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, causing multiple awakenings. Not as well known is that this lowers the saturation of oxygen in your blood and can result in high blood pressure and an increased risk of many heart-related diseases. In addition, sleep awakenings cause acute surges in blood pressure and heart rate, further increasing stress on the heart. 


With obstructive sleep apnea, the cardiac rest achieved in normal and proper sleep is not possible. This is the most alarming component of sleep apnea, since it may lead to many complications. If you have a loved one who experiences any sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, gasping for air during sleep, daytime fatigue, or has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea but is possibly CPAP intolerant, please call our office immediately for a consultation with the doctor. Within a few minutes you could be on your way to helping a friend or family member and possibly even saving his/her life.