Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is an extremely common disorder that results in the obstruction of the upper airway at the back of your throat. When sleeping, this tends to occur when the tongue is sucked to this area, therefore putting a brief stop to airflow. Not only is your sleep interrupted by this condition, but it can also result in low blood oxygen levels within your brain. When this occurs, you will partially awake from a deep sleep to a light sleep, so you may not immediately notice that you’re suffering from the condition.
After a short period of time, this obstruction will be cleared and your breathing will resume, generally with a pop or loud gasp. If this disorder is left untreated, it can cause a wide range of problems, especially in regards to your cardiovascular system. Sleep apnea has also been linked with pregnancy. If you’re pregnant, understanding these links and the issues that come with them will allow you to be on the lookout for signs that you’re affected by this disorder.
How Are Sleep Apnea and Pregnancy Connected?
When you’re pregnant, the chances of suffering from sleep disorders increase dramatically. The most common of these disorders is sleep apnea and it can affect you differently in each trimester. Within pregnant women, this disorder typically occurs due to the result of changing physiology and hormones throughout the course of the pregnancy. While this condition is easily treatable, it can lead to health issues with both the mother and baby before and after the pregnancy. Because of these risks, it’s essential that you seek treatment if you believe that you’re suffering from sleep apnea.
The more detailed reason for the development of sleep apnea in pregnant women is that the increase of progesterone and estrogen within the body leads to fluid retention. When lying down at night, this fluid is redistributed throughout the body and can create swollen areas just around the neck. While many women will just experience conditions like snoring and congestion during pregnancy because of this, sleep apnea can occur if the swollen tissues obstruct the upper airways.
In the first trimester, OSA will typically develop from swelling, immediately leading to daytime fatigue on a regular basis. Once the second trimester rolls around, any of the minor symptoms associated with the development of this disorder will become much more obvious. This usually involves weight gain and an increase in swelling. Within the third trimester, too much daytime sleepiness may alert you to the fact that you’re going through sleep apnea. A significant weight gain during this trimester will increase the odds of sleep apnea.
Who is Most Likely to Suffer From Sleep Apnea Throughout Pregnancy?
Anywhere between one to ten percent of women are likely to develop sleep apnea when at a childbearing age. The possibilities are at their highest when a woman is pregnant or has just went through menopause. While pregnancy increases the chances of suffering from OSA, it’s still rare among healthy pregnant women. This condition is most common with pregnant women that are also suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, or preeclampsia. If you go through an increase in congestion during pregnancy, you’re more likely to be affected by OSA.
What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy?
When pregnant, there are a wide array of signs that may indicate the onset of sleep apnea. Loud snoring is the most obvious sign, as is slight choking and gasping at intervals when sleeping. These signs may only be noticeable by a spouse or partner. Another common symptom of this condition is a severe amount of fatigue and sleepiness during the day. Exhaustion is also common with pregnancy in general, so it can be tricky to determine what is causing it. In order to make this determination, tell your doctor during your next visit. Frequent urination during the night, heartburn, and common headaches are a few of the additional signs of OSA.
What Are the Risks of Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy?
If left unchecked and untreated, there are a myriad of risks for both you and the baby. Obesity is one of the primary causes for the development of this condition. It can also work in tandem with OSA to cause such issues as hypertension and insulin resistance for both the mother and the child. A miscarriage or premature birth is also more likely. Pregnant women that suffer from Diabetes and OSA have a higher chance of giving birth to children that suffer from congenital heart defects. Over 40 percent of pregnant women with OSA will also develop preeclampsia. For the unborn child, untreated OSA may eventually cause the child to suffer from weight issues or preeclampsia themselves. The chances of depression also increase if the sleep apnea remains untreated.
What Are the Available Treatments For Sleep Apnea During Pregnancy?
The best solution for the treatment of sleep apnea during pregnancy is that of Orthognathic surgery, also commonly referred to as jaw surgery. The correction of your jaw placement can alleviate the breathing issues that cause sleep apnea. Before treatment begins, a consultation is held, complete with x-rays to determine the exact position of the jaw. The surgeon in charge of the procedure will then go over the many benefits derived from this surgery, which will be the eradication of OSA for those who suffer from it. It’s a relatively simple procedure with a short recovery time.
If you’re pregnant and believe that you might suffer from sleep apnea, contact us immediately at Dr. Jamali for your initial consultation. Dr. Jamali has been board certified as an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, and has performed well over 1,200 procedures involving general anesthesia. With this experience, you can be confident that you’re being well taken care of. Our offices are located at 42 Broadway, Suite 1501 in New York, New York and we can be reached by phone at 212-480-2777.
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Author: Martin Olivos