Frequently Asked Questions
Q. WHow many people are affected by sleep apnea in the U.S.?
A. Approximately 5-10% of American adults have obstructive sleep apnea, which equates to about 20 million people. This number does not include the people who may have central sleep apnea or have yet to be diagnosed.
Q. What’s the difference between obstructive and central sleep apnea?
A. Obstructive sleep apnea – the more common sleep disorder – is caused by a person’s airway collapsing throughout the night and preventing sufficient oxygen flow to the lungs. Sleep is disrupted repeatedly during the night as the person stops and starts breathing.
Similar to obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea causes a person to stop breathing while asleep, but is the result of the brain’s inability to send proper signals to the throat muscles in charge of controlling one’s breathing.
Q. How does an airway close, collapse or become obstructed while a person sleeps?
A. Some people just have narrow airways, which makes it difficult for oxygen to pass through. Others may have extra throat tissue toward the back of the airway – like big tonsils – which make it difficult for the muscles to hold the airway open when they are relaxed. Another common occurrence is the tongue falling back and blocking the airway, which usually happens when someone lies on their back while asleep.
Q. I think I might have sleep apnea, what should I do?
A. If you think you’re at risk for, or have, sleep apnea, we encourage you to schedule a visit with our board-certified sleep medicine physician at Georgia Sleep Apnea Solutions. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, we will determine whether an in-lab or at-home sleep study is best. Once we’ve monitored your sleep patterns, we will be able to tell you whether or not you have sleep apnea and discuss your treatment options, if necessary.
Q. What happens if I don’t treat my sleep apnea?
A. A. Sleep apnea is a serious disorder which causes you to become oxygen deprived multiple times throughout the night while you sleep. Not only will you feel fatigued in the morning, you could be putting yourself at risk for more serious and dangerous health conditions, including high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, fatigue-related accidents and more. If you have sleep apnea, we encourage you to seek medical help to determine if treatment is necessary.
Q. What are some common sleep apnea risk factors?
A. A. Most people are under the assumption that only older men are affected by sleep apnea, but anyone – regardless of age, gender and body type – can be affected by sleep apnea. However, some risk factors include:
- Old Age
- Being Male
- Excess Weight/Obesity
- Family History and Genetics
- A Large Neck/Tongue
- Extra Throat Tissue – Large Tonsils
- Narrow Airway