What is Sleep Apnea?
A serious sleep disorder in which a patient’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
I’d like to follow up on a blog I wrote about sleep and sleep apnea. It’s more than just a breathing issue that is treated with a CPAP machine. There are many causes of sleep apnea. Depending on what is causing it determines what form of treatment is used. It can also be treated with lifestyle changes such as weight loss.
Causes of sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight
- Large neck size
- Deviated septum
- Nasal polyps
- Eustachian tube dysfunction
Why does being overweight cause sleep apnea?
Access body weight is a huge risk factor for developing sleep apnea.
On one hand carrying extra weight can lead to sleep apnea and on the other hand undiagnosed sleep apnea can cause weight gain. When you gain weight it can cause your blood pressure to go up and can also lead to increased anxiety that can cause sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause weight gain due to a patient’s sleep cycle being disrupted due to always waking up because of interrupted breathing while sleeping.
What is a deviated septum?
Let’s start by asking What is a septum?
A septum is a partition that separates the two chambers between the nostrils. A deviated septum occurs when that partition is distorted because of a nose injury.
A deviated septum can cause breathing problems including sleep apnea and can be corrected with surgery.
What are nasal polyps?
Nasal polyps are soft painless noncancerous growths on the lining of your sinuses or nasal passages.
They are caused by chronic inflammation and are associated with allergies and asthma. Other causes include reoccuring infection and certain immune disorders.
Polyps don’t cause symptoms but if there are enough of them they can obstruct your breathing when they start blocking your nasal passages resulting in sleep apnea.
Luckily this condition can be corrected with either medications or sometimes surgery.
What is a Eustachian Tube Dysfunction?
First we should ask What is a Eustachian Tube? It is a narrow passage that connects your middle ear with your sinus. It opens and closes to drain fluid in your ear or regulate air pressure that builds up. A Eustachian Tube Dysfunction occurs when the tissue along this passageway becomes swollen and doesn’t function properly.
- Nasal congestion
- Ear having a blocked feeling
- Sleep apnea
- Tinnitis (Ear Ringing)
Treatments for Eustachian Tube Dysfunction include:
Taking a steroid nasal spray: Used to reduce the swelling of the lining of the tubes.
Implement small tubes in ears: These are ear tubes that are inserted into the eardrum to drain fluid from your ear.
Using a balloon dilation system: A catheter with a small balloon is inserted up your nose and into your Eustachian tube. The balloon is inflated and can expand the tube so it opens a pathway to allow fluid and air to pass though normally.
Starting as early as 2012 I had a friend that noticed that I stopped breathing in my sleep and his wife saw the same thing and she suspected that I had sleep apnea.
My symptoms included:
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up choking or gasping for air
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Restless sleep
- Mood swings
- Morning headaches
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Heart palpatations
I was diagnosed with sleep apnea in 2015 after a sleep study was done.
The study that was done determined that I had severe sleep apnea. The technician determined that I stopped breathing 60 times during the study.
I was prescribed a CPAP machine as a therapy for sleep apnea. Right away my life improved as I started sleeping better
Since sleep apnea has many causes I looked into it some more. I made an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Doctor. First I needed to determine if the problem occured in my sinuses so the doctor checked for nasal polyps and checked my septum. No polyps and my septum was deviated but not enough to disrupt my breathing.
The main causes of my sleep apnea were:
- My large neck size
- Being overweight
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
There were lifestyle changes that had to be made.
- Lose weight: Lost 40 pounds in one year
- Change some of my habits: No coffee after 3pm
- Change my diet: Reduced my intake of refined sugars, saturated fats and increased my fruit and vegetable intake
Have you suffered from a sleep disorder?
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