Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea

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Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea
Your doctor may assess you based on your symptoms and a sleep history, which you can offer with the support of a bed-sharer or household member.

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, even you!

  • One out of four middle-aged men is a man
  • One in 10 middle-aged women is a woman
  • Even children

Sleep apnea is a condition that has been known since forever, but it was only recently discovered.

Many doctors aren’t trained to look for signs of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea treatment can reduce your chance of developing serious health problems.

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Automobile crashes

To determine if you have any sleep disorders, consult a specialist.

Sleep Apnea: Who is it?

What is the first sign that a person has developed a tendency towards sleep apnea? Because sleep apnea is a result of combined risk factors, it can be difficult to identify.

All ages can suffer from sleep apnea. The tendency may even be present from birth in some individuals. Sleep apnea is a later stage of a disorder of breathing that starts early in life. It’s a mild breathing problem that affects a small part of the automatic reflex.

When other risk factors are present, a breathing abnormality is more likely than sleep apnea to develop.

  • Obesity
  • A sensitive breathing reflex
  • The slightest failure of coordination between the breathing muscles
  • A narrowed or blocked upper airway, such as in the nasal passages or large tonsils, adenoids, or lower jaw, can cause obstructions.

All of these factors can combine to cause a gradual increase in breathing difficulty in young people. This could eventually lead to a permanent abnormality when sleeping in adulthood.

Sleep apnea can be inherited in some cases. One example is a person who inherits an airway that is difficult to shape. He may also inherit a low response to carbon dioxide. A person may develop sleep apnea from one factor or several.

Sleep apnea can be influenced by gender. Sleep apnea is three times more common in men than it is in women (3). This could be due to differences in the structure and muscle tone of men and women. It is possible that sex hormones can also play a role (e.g., testosterone in men vs progesterone for women).

Another factor is extra body weight. Obese people have a higher rate of sleep apnea compared to people who are healthy.

Sleep apnea can be defined as a condition that affects middle-aged people or those who are older. This is due to several reasons. First, as we age, our throat muscle tone decreases during sleep. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to worsening of the condition. Third, weight increases with age, most often starting after 40. When symptoms of sleep apnea become severe enough to warrant medical attention, the patient may be in their 40s or 50s. They may also be suffering from obesity, heart disease, pulmonary complications, arrhythmia, or congestive heart failure. According to one report, the average age of patients attending a sleep clinic is 52.4 years.

Sleep apnea is possible at any age. Sleep apnea can also occur in children. Sleep apnea can be a problem in children. Sleep apnea is more common in obese and enlarged tonsils.

Many drugs can cause sleep apnea. These drugs include alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotic medications (sleeping pills), as well as some heart medications (short-acting beta-blockers such as propranolol).

Have You Ever Heard About Sleep Apnea?

According to estimates, 20 million Americans might suffer from sleep apnea. One in four men and one in ten women aged 30-60 years have signs of sleep apnea. One in five Israeli industrial workers had some form of sleep apnea, according to a study. This is a surprising number considering that not many people had heard of sleep apnea until a few years back.

If sleep apnea seems so common, then why haven’t you heard of it? Sleep apnea is a condition that has been known since ancient times but was only recently recognized by medical professionals.

W. H. Broadbent, an observant physician, published one of the earliest descriptions ever of sleep apnea in 1877. Although he did not name the condition sleep apnea in his writings, he described two types of apnea today: obstructive and central.

In the late 1800s, there were many more reports about patients suffering from sleepiness during the day and difficulty breathing when asleep. In

1890. Silas Weir Mitchell, an American neurologist, and toxicologist wrote the first detailed accounts about a breathing disorder that occurs during sleep. He also began unraveling the mystery of sleep apnea.

People suffering from sleep apnea were quickly informed that bacteria was the cause of some diseases. Medical attention was primarily focused on microbes such as sleep sickness and other sleep disorders. Many of the information and suggestions about sleep disorders were ignored.

Scientists began making careful observations of sleeping people in the 1950s. Polysomnography, an electronic method for measuring and studying the sleep cycle, was developed by them. They discovered interesting details about sleep through this method.

For example, they discovered that sleep is not a time of inactivity. This surprising discovery sparked a surge in interest in sleep research, which intensified the search for a better understanding of sleep, normal and abnormal.

It was soon apparent that sleep events can have a profound impact on a person’s health. According to Dr. William Dement (one of the leading experts in this field), “It’s possible for individuals to be completely normal awake and fatally ill asleep.” A new field of medicine, sleep disorders medicine, was born.

Over the past 15 years, researchers in sleep have been able to identify signs and symptoms of many abnormal sleep conditions, including sleep apnea, other forms of sleep-disordered breathing, narcolepsy and nocturnal myoclonus and idiopathic nervous system hypersomnolence. These conditions were previously difficult to diagnose or even impossible.

Doctors are getting more educated and can now diagnose sleep apnea in patients that were previously treated for heart disease, insomnia, or any other symptoms.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea: Confirming the Diagnosis

After you are given a tentative diagnosis for sleep apnea, or another similar sleep/breathing disorder, it is important to arrange an all-night test. Proper testing is essential to confirm the existence of a sleep disorder as well as to differentiate between them. A wrong diagnosis can lead to inappropriate treatment. A wrong diagnosis can lead to serious problems, such as sleep apnea.

Similar symptoms can be seen in other sleep disorders

Narcolepsy refers to a sleep disorder where people experience irresistible sleep attacks at inappropriate times. It is similar to sleep apnea. Narcolepsy, however, is a neurological disorder that has its own symptoms, such as sleep paralysis and cataplexy. It is not like sleep apnea.

Sometimes, insomnia is confused with sleep apnea. There are many causes of insomnia. Only a small percentage of people with sleep apnea also suffer from it.

Sometimes, sleep apnea can be accompanied by two other sleep disorders. These include periodic limb movement during sleep (PLMS), also known as a periodic leg movement disorder.

PLMD (or nocturnal myoclonus), and restless leg syndromes (RLS) are both possible. These can both cause daytime sleepiness. However, a skilled sleep disorders specialist can help you avoid confusion by performing appropriate testing.


  • Family doctors are still not able to recognize sleep apnea.
  • Although sleep apnea is possible at any age, it is more common in middle-aged people and those who are obese.
  • It is possible to treat sleep apnea.

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