Sleep Apnea FAQ

What is Sleep Apnea?

It is estimated that 20 million Americans have sleep apnea, but many are unaware of it. Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially-life threatening breathing disorder, characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. Those most likely to be affected by sleep apnea are those who snore loudly, are overweight, have high blood pressure, or have some physical abnormality in the nose, throat, or other parts of the upper airway. The use of alcohol and sleeping pills may also increase the frequency of sleep apnea.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

•  Central sleep apnea– which occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles to initiate breathing.
•  Obstructive sleep apnea– occurs when air cannot flow into or out of the person’s nose or mouth, although efforts to breathe continue.

Recognizing the symptoms

It is important to recognize signs of sleep apnea as it may be associated with serious health conditions such as irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, daytime sleepiness, and increased risk of motor vehicle accidents. Some characteristics include:

•  A number of involuntary breathing pauses or “apneic events” during a single night’s sleep (20-30 per hour) and almost always accompanied by snoring, although not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
•  Choking sensations
•  Frequent interruptions of deep sleep, leading to early morning headaches and excessive daytime sleepiness

During an apneic event (an event where you stop breathing), your body will “wake you up” as a signal for you to start breathing again. This may be accompanied by a loud snort or gasp. This awakening prevents you from falling into a deep restorative sleep which can cause a number of other health concerns including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and depression.

Remember to STOP

Everyone wishes they could get a more restorative sleep, and it is an important part of both your physical and emotional health. No matter how busy you are it is important to STOP and think about your sleeping habits. If you answer yes to any of the questions below or experience any of the symptoms on the left it may be time to consult with your doctor.

S. Do you snore?
T. Are you often tired during the day?
O. Do you have obstruction of air during sleep?
P. Do you have high blood pressure?

B. Is your BMI more than 28?
A. Are you age 50 or older?
N. Is the circumference of your neck greater than 15.75 inches?
G. What is your gender? Males are more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea, although it may go undiagnosed among women.

What Everyone Needs to Know About Sleep Apnea

If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea it is important you talk to your doctor.

One overnight study can resolve a lifetime of sleep problems

With convenient locations throughout Monmouth and Ocean counties, Meridian Sleep Centers are close to home, so you can feel at ease while you experience your overnight sleep study. We can help you find relief from the symptoms and disorders that have such a negative impact on your sleeping, as well as your waking hours. Learn more about the six Meridian Sleep Centers.

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For more information on any physician, call 1-800-560-9990 or 1-800-DOCTORS.

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