Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that is considered serious. As a condition that causes a pause in your breathing, sleep apnea can last for about 10 seconds or longer and it can occur more than 30 times in an hour while you are sleeping. It is more common in men than women and affects millions of people of all ages around the world. There are many causes of sleep apnea, including enlarged tonsils and other chronic health problems and often is left undiagnosed since it is a condition that happens when you are deep asleep. Due to that, you might not even know that you suffer from it. Here are the signs to watch out for to know if you have sleep apnea.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea
There are many symptoms, such as loud snoring, interruptions in breathing and gasping for air. If left untreated, sleep apnea can become a problem for you as it can lead to other health issues, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and in worst cases, sudden death. Due to the presence of sleep apnea, a person’s sleep at night will be disturbed, which creates the presence of chronic daytime sleepiness. It is the reason why there are cases of industrial and transportation accidents that involve people who suffer from sleep apnea. Due to this, sleep apnea has been seen as a public health problem that affects the safety of a community.
Types of sleep apnea
There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common form is known as obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when there is a partial or complete obstruction of the airway. When there’s an obstruction of the airway, you are most likely to snore loudly, snort or even gasp for air in your sleep. The main cause of this problem is because your airway is too narrow, which sometimes can be a condition that you have had since you were born. When your airway is too narrow, the tissues at the back of your throat end up blocking your airway making it difficult for you to breathe properly while sleeping.
Central sleep apnea happens when something goes wrong with the way your brain signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Considered a neurological problem, it is caused by an illness or condition where the brainstem is affected, such as stroke, heart failure, Parkinson’s disease or even a brain infection. The brainstems control breathing so when there is a problem, your breathing becomes very shallow or can repeatedly stop while you are asleep. Some medications like opioids, sedatives or benzodiazepines play a big role in triggering central sleep apnea.
The last type is a condition called complex sleep apnea syndrome. This condition happens when a person has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Usually, when there is obstructive sleep apnea present, a breathing machine is given to help the person sleep but if that doesn’t solve the problem, then there is another condition present as well. When there are both of these conditions present, it becomes much harder to treat sleep apnea.
How to know if you have sleep apnea?
If you sleep alone, it would be hard for you to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea. Still, there are ways to monitor how you sleep. Fitness and health bracelets and mobile apps can record your sleeping process and track your breathing and heart rate. Medical doctors record your full medical history and conduct a physical examination before diagnosing someone with sleep apnea. After reviewing your case, the doctor will recommend a sleep study, which can be done at home. Your blood oxygen levels and heart rate will be monitored while you are sleeping. This is to see how well the air flows in and out of your nose, mouth and lungs. Your brain waves will also be monitored and the periods of breathing pauses present while you are asleep. All these steps are required before the doctor can diagnose you with sleep apnea. If you think you have sleep apnea, make an appointment with your local medical doctor as soon as possible to avoid further health complications.
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