Understanding Sleep Apnea & Sleep Disordered Breathing
The hallmark of apnea is repeated episodes of breathing cessation due to airway obstruction during sleep.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition involving abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. These abnormal breathing patterns involve:
- Recurring episodes of breathing obstruction, and sleep interruptions.
- Sleep fragmentation associated with episodes of decreased oxygenation (hypoxemia)
- Chronic fatigue, excessive day-time sleepiness and decreased intellectual performance.
Sleep apnea spells:
- Can be brief, lasting 1 or 2 seconds; or they can be much longer.
- One can stop breathing for 5 seconds, 10 seconds, sometimes even as long as 60 seconds.
- The longer one stops breathing, the worse the apnea; and the more frequently one stops breathing, the worse the apnea.
The Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI), is a commonly utilized index to quantify the severity of the apnea. The index is a numeric specification of the number of abnormal breathing events per hour.
Sleep apnea sufferers usually are not aware of these airway obstructions.
- One might snore oneself awake.
- Occasionally, one might awaken gasping for breath, not sure why they are out of breath.
- Most of the time, individuals with sleep apnea have no idea of their condition.
- Bed partners can be aware of snoring, but may not necessarily understand what apnea is, and therefore may not recognize these abnormal breathing patterns.
- The term sleep apnea was coined in 1973. Prior to that, we did not have a label or a diagnosis for individuals with this disorder.
- 3%-7% of the population suffers from apnea.
- About 22 million Americans are diagnosed with apnea, but there are many more who are living with apnea undiagnosed, and untreated.
Much has been learned since that time, including a variety of sleep treatment options, including RFA.
If you or someone you know is in need of a better night’s sleep, contact us for a no obligation consultation. We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems. We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAP, Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.