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Sleep apnea causes frequent, short pauses in breathing throughout the night, which prevents deep sleep and results in low oxygen levels in the blood.
There are two types: central sleep apnea, in which the brain incorrectly controls breathing during sleep, and obstructive sleep apnea, in which the throat muscles cannot keep the person’s airway open. Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder and the main cause of extreme daytime sleepiness.
When it comes to sleep apnea in the Sacramento region, your care is in good hands with Dignity Health Neurological Institute of Northern California. We have two experienced teams that treat the two types of sleep apnea, whether neurologic or pulmonary. Find a Doctor today to learn more about the care we offer at our state-of-the-art sleep centers.
A spouse or family member will often notice the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea before the person with the disorder because some symptoms occur only during sleep.
Most causes of sleep apnea are related to the ability of your throat muscles to keep your windpipe open while you sleep. These muscles and your tongue naturally relax during sleep, but when they relax too much, it can cause sleep apnea. Larger than usual tongue or tonsils, or the way your skull is shaped may result in a smaller airway, making it more difficult to breathe at night. Overweight people and older people may have a harder time keeping the airway open at night.
Sleep apnea is linked to risk factors for cardiovascular disease, including being overweight and obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
At our two sleep centers, our sleep specialists offer several treatment and prevention strategies for sleep apnea. Preventive measures include keeping your weight within a normal range and managing allergies and other conditions that cause congestion, which can narrow your airway. Treatment options include adjustments to your lifestyle, such as:
Mouthpieces or breathing devices can also treat sleep apnea. A mouthpiece worn at night, usually used for mild cases, will reposition your lower jaw and tongue to open your airway.
More serious cases may require a breathing device, such as a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. You wear the CPAP mask over your nose to blow air into your throat and keep the airway open. Surgery to widen your airway can be an option in some cases.
You and your doctor will talk about the right treatment for you and find a solution to improving your sleep quality.