How Neurology Affects Sleep Apnea

By: Dr. Ellen Edgar  -  no responses  -  Conditions, Diagnosis, Neurological Blog, Treatments


Neurological causes for sleep apnea in New York City

How Neurology Affects Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder that is characterized by interruptions of an individual’s normal breathing sequence during sleep. This interruption will typically occur repeatedly throughout the night and will often last for 10 seconds or longer. Persons with sleep apnea will often wake up as they struggle to breathe, and they may not be aware it in the morning.

There are three types of sleep apnea conditions namely, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea (CSA) and a combination of the two. The most common is OSA, where the passage of air is blocked by the relaxation of soft tissue present at the back of the throat. According to research, an estimated 80% to 90% of Americans have OSA but have not been diagnosed, yet this condition could potentially be life threatening. If this condition is left untreated, it could cause pulmonary hypertension, psychiatric disorders, myocardial infarction, coronary heart disease, stroke, cognitive impairment and, even death.

Neurology and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Research indicates that patients with some certain types of neurological conditions such as myasthenia gravis, Parkinsonism, and myotonic dystrophy have a higher chance of suffering from sleep apnea. This is because these conditions may impair the nerves that control the upper airway muscles. Sleep apnea itself puts an individual at a high risk of suffering from some forms of neurological conditions, for instance if you suffer from stroke as a result of this condition your neurological system will be greatly affected.

How Sleep Apnea is Diagnosed and what are its symptoms?

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Snoring
  • Headaches
  • Feeling fatigued during the day
  • Mood problems
  • Poor memory

If you have experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above, you should talk to a doctor for proper diagnosis. The doctor will perform a physical exam and examine your medical and sleep history. The doctor is likely also to perform a sleep test, which is one of the best ways of determining the presence and cause of sleep apnea. This test monitors eye movement, the brain’s electrical activity, breathing patterns, heart rate, blood oxygen levels and more. The doctor will then determine the severity of the sleep apnea and its cause, from the test results.

Is There Treatment for This Condition?

One of the most effective treatments available is an oral appliance. Similar in appearance to a mouth guard these devices help “open your airway by repositioning ” your jaw  to prevent snoring and sleep apnea. The type of treatment you receive will largely be based on the severity of the disorder and your medical history. Treatment will often begin with lifestyle changes, such as avoiding medications that affect the central nervous system (muscle relaxants and sedatives), losing weight, and avoiding smoking and alcohol. Some patients may also require surgical procedures aimed at removing throat tissue while some may need a combination of therapies.

Sleep apnea may cause you to be moody and easily irritable; it might also cause you to be non-productive at work, and this condition may also cause the development of more serious conditions. If you suspect that you might be having sleep apnea, book an appointment today with Complete Neurological Care to assess your condition.

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