What is sleep-disordered breathing?

By AOO on October 30, 2023 under Sleep Health

What is sleep-disordered breathing?

Sleep-disordered breathing, SDB, is a term that many people use for sleep apnea. However, SDB and sleep apnea are two separate things. SDB refers to any condition that disrupts normal breathing when sleeping. It is a broad term describing several chronic health conditions that affect nighttime breathing.

Some of the conditions that fall under SDB include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Mixed sleep apnea
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome

SDB can cause numerous problems, including hypertension, abnormal sleeping patterns, and injury, and can exacerbate other sleeping-related problems. SDB can exist as an isolated case, or it will co-exist with other conditions, such as nervous, endocrine, and cardiovascular conditions.

SDB and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when breathing stops for about 10 seconds while sleeping. It’s typically caused by anatomy which blocks the airway. Central sleep apnea (CSA) causes the same cessation of breathing, but this one occurs because of disruption in the central nervous system. People who suffer from sleep apnea will experience fragmented sleep patterns with a lot of daytime sleepiness. It also causes disruptive snoring, nocturnal hypoxemia, and exacerbation of many other health concerns.

The severity of OSA syndrome is shown through the apnea-hypopnea index, which describes the number of apnea and hypopnea episodes in an hour of sleep. It might also be shown through the respiratory disturbance index, which describes the rate of drowsiness during the day.

People suffering from sleep apnea are exposed to risk factors, such as:

  • Obesity
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Craniofacial abnormalities
  • Acromegaly
  • Disturbed moods
  • Impaired cognitive performance

Thanks to excessive daytime sleepiness, people with OSA syndrome and other forms of sleep apnea can be involved in traffic accidents, workplace incidents, or other serious injuries. People with SDB will snore. However, snoring can result from several other causes and doesn’t necessarily mean you have sleep apnea or other type of SDB.

SDB and Upper-Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS)

UARS is an SDB condition where the upper airways become blocked, causing you to snore during sleep. This causes arousals during sleep. In severe cases, the condition causes daytime drowsiness. Because snoring can result from one of several causes, there is no single diagnostic criterion for this condition. However, the condition can be managed through continuous nasal positive airway pressure (n-CPAP).

Treating SDB

Treating SDB involves managing contributing factors and administering n-CPAP. Through n-CPAP, patients are able to sleep better and reduce daytime drowsiness. In some cases, surgery can be used to treat anatomical causes. SDB typically involves long-term treatment in order to reduce risk factors and symptoms that come with SDB. For this reason, it’s important to partner with an experienced ENT specialist who can help you explore your options.

Schedule an Appointment

There are several treatment options for people with SDB. Talk to AOO|ENT Specialist of the Rockies in Lone Tree, New Castle, and Denver to learn more about treating your SDB and achieving relief. To get started, schedule a consultation by calling or filling out our online contact form.