What is sleep disordered breathing?

Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) describes a group of disorders where an individual may have abnormal respiratory patterns and insufficient ventilation during sleep. Abnormal respiratory patterns include apneas and hypoapneas where the individual stops breathing for 10 seconds or more or shallow breathing, respectively. In both cases, the disordered sleep will disrupt sleep and, when prolonged, will cause an individual to be tired and exhausted which puts a strain on the individual’s body/system.

How common is sleep disordered breathing?

Estimates conclude that prevalence of sleep disordered breathing may be as high as two percent in women and four percent in men. Further, nine percent of men and four percent of women qualified as having moderate sleep apnea with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) of greater than 15. Gender also plays a role in the risk of sleep apnea. 

Signs and symptoms of sleep disordered breathing

The signs and symptoms of sleep disordered breathing include:

  • Loud or frequent snoring
  • Silent pauses in breathing
  • Choking or gasping sounds
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Insomnia
  • AM headaches
  • Nocturia (frequent nighttime potty breaks)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Irritability
  • Grinding
  • Sleep terrors
  • Sleep talking
  • Restless sleep or weird positions (head back, inverted “C shape”)
  • Bedwetting

Why is quality of sleep important?

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental health, physical health, quality of life, and safety. A restful night’s sleep will determine how well you feel on a given day. Allowing your body to sleep, preferably at night, allows your body to maintain itself including physical and mental components. In children and teens, sleep is also important for growth and development.

A lack of sleep can lead to chronic health problems and can affect how well you think and learn and affect your mood.

Treatment for sleep disordered breathing

The treatment of sleep disorders has become a hot topic over the past several decades. There are various surgical as well as non-invasive treatments which can help with many of the issues that come from sleep disordered breathing.

A collaborative team of healthcare professionals is required to assess, diagnose, and treat sleep disordered breathing. An appropriately trained SLPs is one of those professionals that can assist with treating an SDB.

SLPs are trained in the anatomy, physiology, disorders, and treatment of the speech, voice, resonance, and swallow mechanism. Respiratory disorders impact structures and functions within the scope of speech pathology.

SLPs provide behavior modification training to help individuals meet their goals. An SLP can provide SDB treatment that can improve patient compliance, adherence, and outcomes to compliment other SDB treatments.

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