|Sleep apnea is a serious sleep
disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep.
The most common form of sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
Anyone can be affected by sleep apnea but the most common risk factors include:
Over age forty
Sleep Apnea left untreated can lead to:
Heart failure, irregular heart beats, and heart attacks
Severe tiredness effecting daily activities such as work and driving
A sleep study should be performed by a qualified sleep specialist to determine if your sleeping disorder is caused by sleep apnea or another problem.
Check with your general physician for a recommendation to a sleep disorder clinic.
University of Florida has a local sleep disorder clinic on Jacksonville campus. For more information, go to jax.shands.org.
TREATMENT OF SLEEP APNEA
In mild cases of sleep apnea, conservative approaches may be taken. These include:
Avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills
Changing sleep positions
Avoid sleeping on your back
In more severe cases, a CPAP machine may be used to treat sleep apnea. For this treatment, you wear a mask over the nose and/or mouth while you sleep while a continuous flow of air is delivered into the nostrils. This pressure keeps the airways open so that breathing is not impaired.
Some cases of sleep apnea can be treated using a dental device. An appliance is made to wear at night which aids in keeping the airway open.
There are many options in treating sleep apnea. The above mentioned treatments are the most common.