Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder in which the patient experiences a brief and repeated pause in breathing i.e. the breathing stops and starts briefly and repeatedly. So, if you snore aloud and you usually feel tired when you wake up even after a full night’s sleep, you might be suffering from sleep apnea.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are 3 main types of sleep apnea, these are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – this is the most common type of sleep apnea and it occurs when the muscles of the throat relax
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) – this type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the breath-controlling muscles.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome – this type of apnea is also referred to as treatment-emergent CSA. It is caused by the combination of the other two types of sleep apnea, i.e. a person is said to have a complex sleep apnea syndrome when he or she is suffering from both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Most times, the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea overlap with symptoms of central sleep apnea, making it hard to ascertain which type of sleep apnea a patient has. However, the most common sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Early morning headache
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Cases in which a person stops breathing during sleep, which is usually reported by another person
- Loud snoring.
Considering all the sleep apnea symptoms above, if you think you have sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact us for immediate sleep apnea treatment. Early sleep apnea treatment can ease your symptoms as well as prevent further complications.
When to Consult Your Doctor?
Generally, snoring loudly may be an indication of sleep apnea, though not everybody who snores loudly has sleep apnea and not everybody who has sleep apnea snores. But if you notice 2 or more sleep apnea symptoms, consult your doctor as soon as possible. Discuss with your doctor about any sleep disorder that gives you concern.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the relaxation of the muscles located at the back of your throat. Normally, these muscles give support to your tongue, the side walls of your throat, your tonsils, the triangular piece of tissue that hangs from your soft palate, and your soft palate.
When these muscles relax, it causes your airway to close or constrict as you breathe in (inability to breathe in well). As a result of this, you would not get sufficient air and this can lower your blood oxygen level. Once your brain senses your inability to take in air effectively, it briefly awakens you from your sleep to enable you to reopen your airway. This brief awakening can be in the form of gasp, choke, or snort but you wouldn’t remember it because it’s always so brief.
This is a repeated process and can occur about 5 to 30 times per hour or more sometimes, disturbing your ability to have a deep sleep all night.
- Central sleep apnea
This is a less common type of sleep apnea. It is caused by the failure of your brain to send signals to your breathing muscles. That is, you would make no effort to breathe for a short period (temporary pause in breathe). This can cause you to wake up with shortness of breath or worse still experience a difficult time staying asleep or getting to sleep.
Risk Factors Associated With Sleep Apnea
Anybody including children can be affected by sleep apnea. However, there are some certain risk factors that may increase your likelihood of having sleep apnea. These factors include the following:
Obstructive sleep apnea
- Nasal congestion: having difficulties breathing during sleep through your nose. You have a higher risk of having obstructive sleep apnea if you experience difficulties breathing through your nose.
- Excess weight: when you are obese, you have a higher risk of having obstructive sleep apnea. This is because the accumulation of fatty deposits around your upper airway may affect your breathing.
- Neck circumference: if you have a thicker neck, you might have a narrower airway. This causes obstructive sleep apnea.
- A narrowed airway: if you have a narrowed airway, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. Narrowed airways may be caused by enlarged adenoids or tonsils, inherited narrow throat, etc.
- Being male: if you are male, you are about 2 to 3 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than female. Though, the risk of having obstructive sleep apnea may increase in women after menopause and in overweight women.
- Being older: the risk of having obstructive sleep apnea is significantly high in older adults.
- Family history: if any of your family members has obstructive sleep apnea, you have a higher risk of having obstructive sleep apnea.
- Use of tranquillizers, sedatives or alcohol: taking any of these substances would cause the muscles in your throat to relax, thereby increasing your chances of having obstructive sleep apnea.
- Smoking: if you smoke, you’re only increasing your likelihood of having obstructive sleep apnea. Smoking can cause fluid retention in your upper airway or increase the amount of inflammation in the upper airway. Both of which can block your airway leading to obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea
- Stroke: if you have a stroke in the past, this will increase the risk of having central sleep apnea or complex sleep apnea syndrome.
- Narcotic pain medications: if you use narcotic pain medications or opioid medications, you’re increasing your risk of having central sleep apnea.
- Heart disorders: if you have congestive heart failure, you would probably have central sleep apnea.
- Being male: the risk of having central sleep apnea is generally high in men than in women.
- Being older: the risk of having central sleep apnea is generally high in middle-aged and older people.
Home Remedies and Lifestyle to Treat Sleep Apnea
These self-care remedies and lifestyle tips may help in dealing with sleep apnea:
- Lose excess weight.
- Engage in frequent exercise.
- As much as possible, avoid alcohol and some certain medications like sedatives, sleeping pills, and tranquillizers.
- Sleep more on your abdomen or side than on your back.
- Avoid smoking as much as possible.
Health Effects of Sleep Apnea
If you notice any symptom of sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact us for immediate sleep apnea treatment. Untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of contracting any of these health challenges:
- Worsening of ADHD
- Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
- High blood pressure
More so, people with sleep apnea may experience poor performance in their daily activities and underachievement.
Are you struggling with snoring loudly or interrupted sleep? Are you experiencing any symptom of sleep apnea? Find out how Premium Surgical Arts can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.