Sleep apnea is a condition that causes a person to momentarily stop breathing while sleeping. This means that the brain and body don't get all the oxygen that they need. It also causes sleep to be disturbed leaving the person with sleep apnea tired or irritable the next day.
Without treatment, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack or stroke. If the sleep apnea is severe and has gone on for a long time, it can lead to heart failure.
Many things can cause or contribute to sleep apnea including:
- A greater than normal relaxation of the throat muscles and tongue
- The structure of the head and neck. This can cause the airway of the mouth and throat to be unusually small. Sometimes the structure of the head and neck contribute to the throat being blocked during sleep.
- Large tonsils and adenoids
- Being overweight
Treatment options offered at the Cedars-Sinai Pain Center include:
- Positive airway pressure devices
- Counseling on lifestyle changes that can help reduce sleep apnea
- Mouth guards and mandibular advancement splints to shift the position of the tongue and jaw to keep the airways open
- Surgical procedure
Consultative Services for People At Risk of Developing Sleep Apnea
People who have certain conditions have a greater risk of developing sleep apnea. These conditions include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease)
- Atrial fibrillation
- Brain tumors
- Heart failure
- Muscular dystrophy
- Spinal cord injuries
People who live with someone who has these conditions should be on alert for signs of sleep apnea. The physicians at the Pain Center at Cedars-Sinai are always available to work with other physicians and specialists in addressing sleep apnea issues in patients with risk factors for sleep apnea