Sleep apnea comes with many descriptions including annoying, inconvenient, and dangerous. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that temporarily stops breathing during sleep. These brief interruptions cause you to wake up throughout the night, leading to daytime drowsiness and fatigue.
Sleep apnea comes in two forms: obstructive and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form and occurs when the airways are blocked by soft tissue. This causes the back of the throat to collapse.
Central sleep apnea involves failed brain signals. Your airways aren’t blocked but the brain causes respiratory control system issues, disallowing the breathing muscles to receive their signals.
There are a number of factors that increase sleep apnea risk. For instance, being overweight increases chances of developing sleep apnea. Being male, over 40, necks over 16 inches, and nasal obstruction also heighten sleep apnea likelihood.
If you often wake up with a dry or sore throat, there’s a great chance you have sleep apnea. Other common symptoms include loud snoring, waking up gasping or choking, and waking up with headaches. You can also experience lack of interest in sex, mood swings, and insomnia.
Sleep apnea is dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, low quality sleep leads to trouble focusing and staying awake throughout the day. Working jobs with heavy machinery or lifting puts you at higher risk of injury. Students with sleep apnea also struggle with alertness, which negatively impacts their academic achievement.
In addition to drowsiness and fatigue, sleep apnea leads to other diseases. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, and even heart failure. Sleep apnea also worsens ADHD.
Sleep apnea impacts many body systems. This condition impairs the respiratory system based on the body’s inability to transfer oxygen. People with asthma and other breathing issues intensify their symptoms.
Sleep apnea also increases chances of developing type 2 diabetes due to insulin resistance. Sleep apnea also commonly occurs along with metabolic syndrome, which raises blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and increases weight circumference.
Sleep apnea can be rough on your digestive system. This disorder increases chances of liver conditions such as fatty liver disease, scarring, and an increased number of liver enzymes. Sleep apnea also worsens conditions like heartburn and reflux disorders.
If you’re overweight and have sleep apnea, having high blood pressure and excess fat also put strain on your heart. You’re also more likely to have an abnormal heart rhythm, which increases the likelihood of a stroke and heart failure.
If you plan on having children, sleep apnea reduces sex drive, as well as causes erectile dysfunction in some men. If you have central sleep apnea, your brain signals dont work properly, making it difficult to send and receive oxygen. This form of sleep apnea also causes tingling and numbness.
As soon as you begin experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor will recommend a polysomnogram. This sleep apnea test is either performed in your home or in a sleep disorder center. This involves multiple tests.
To start, you’re assigned to a private room. Technicians monitor you from a room next door. Although the monitoring equipment you’re hooked up to appears uncomfortable, people typically have very little trouble falling asleep. Similar equipment is also transported to your home if necessary.
Once you lay down, you’re hooked up to surface electrodes. These electrodes on your face and scalp read brain signals. You’ll also have chest and abdomen belts that read muscle activity as well as blood-oxygen finger readers.
Once your doctor diagnoses you with sleep apnea, they may require additional tests to determine your treatment options. In mild cases, you can make lifestyle choices to minimize sleep apnea symptoms. If you’re overweight, losing weight will improve the severity of your sleep apnea. Eating a balanced diet and drinking water highly contributes to improving overall wellness.
You should also eliminate smoking and drinking alcohol, especially before going to bed. Smoking actually causes upper airway swelling, making your condition worse.
Your doctor may also recommend a CPAP machine. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, comes with a mask that covers your nose and mouth as you sleep. This mask connects to a machine that provides constant air flow throughout the night. This as well as a similar machine called BPAP are common treatment methods.
If either machine doesn’t improve your condition, your doctor may recommend dentists who specialize in sleep apnea patients or even surgery.
Sleep apnea is dangerous for productivity and overall wellness. Your body needs quality rest to ensure a quality life, so you must take action at the first signs of sleep apnea symptoms. Be sure to speak with a specialist and receive a proper diagnosis to prevent sleep apnea complications.
In addition to poor sleep patterns, sleep apnea raises the probability of acquiring other health disorders and conditions. If you’re overweight or have a family history of health issues, it’s especially important to receive a diagnosis as quickly as possible.
After your diagnosis, be sure to communicate with your healthcare specialist concerning the effectiveness of your treatment. If one method doesn’t work, they’ll recommend alternative methods to keep your condition under control. Being proactive about treating your sleep apnea is the key to saving your life.