Sleep apnea is, at the moment, one of the most common sleep disorders. This sleeping disorder is common in Americans nowadays that almost 22 million Americans suffer from this condition. Therefore, sleep apnea has become a real health issue in the States.
Moreover, around 80% of those who suffer from this condition are exposed to moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea.
This sleep disorder can lead to various health problems, including high blood pressure, stroke, chronic heart failure, and numerous cardiovascular issues.
However, there is much more about this condition that should be known, so let’s see what sleep apnea is, what the symptoms are, and how it can be treated.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is considered to be a potentially severe sleep disorder. This disorder is known as the disorder in which breathing repeatedly starts and stops.
For example, if you snore loudly, heavy, and often you might have sleep apnea. Moreover, if you wake up feeling tired after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
There are three different types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: this is the most common type and it occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea: this type of apnea happens when your brain isn’t linked with muscles that are responsible for control breathing. Another word, your brains don’t send right signals to specific muscles that are responsible for breathing control.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: this sleep apnea type is known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. This type occurs when someone has both central and obstructive sleep apnea
If you think that you have sleep apnea, the best thing that you could do is to see a doctor.
You can guess for an extended period if either you have sleep apnea or not, but the truth is that only a doctor can confirm this condition. Now, let’s see what the most common symptoms of sleep apnea are.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms And Signs
To understand better sleep apnea and how it works, you should know how this condition manifests.
So, if you think that you might have sleep apnea, you should monitor the following symptoms, or tell your partner or family members to say to you if they notice anything unusual regarding your sleeping routine.
Moreover, if they could spend a few hours monitoring you while you sleep. Overall, sleep apnea warning sins are usually divided into significant warning signs and other warning signs. So, let’s tackle the considerable warning signs first.
Major Warning Signs
- Loud snoring every night
- Chronic snoring every night
- Gasping during sleep
- Snorting during sleep
- Choking during sleep
- Often and intense pauses in breathing
- Waking up at night feeling short of breath. This is not to be mistaken with conditions such as nocturia or restless leg syndrome
- Daytime sleepiness. This is not to be mistaken with naps
- Daytime fatigue no matter how much time you spend in bed
Other Warning Signs
- Waking up with a sore throat
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Experiencing insomnia
- Going to the bathroom frequently
- You have difficulty concentrating
- Morning headaches
- Unusual moodiness
When To See A Doctor?
Snoring is usually a sign that something is wrong. However, if you are experiencing snoring regularly and it’s loud, you should think about visiting a doctor.
In general, loud snoring is a standard indicator that you are going through a health issue. This doesn’t mean that everyone who has sleep apnea snores.
If you have any of the listed symptoms above, talk to your doctor. Moreover, if you think that you have sleep apnea because of other symptoms, visit a doctor.
Also, ask your doctor about any sleep problem that leaves you irritable, sleepy, or fatigued.
Is It Just Snoring Or Is It Sleep Apnea?
It’s important to know that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Identically, not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. So, how to tell the difference? What indicates regular snoring, and where does sleep apnea begins?
This may sound unusual, but the biggest giveaway is how you feel when you are awake. Yes, that’st right. How you feel during the day indicates how well you slept. For example, regular snoring never interferes with your sleep quality.
Sleep apnea always interferes with your sleep quality. So, when your sleep interrupted, you are more likely to suffer from sleepiness or even extreme fatigue.
As mentioned earlier, if you think that you have sleep apnea, you must see your doctor. However, if you are not sure if you are just loud and frequent snorer or you have sleep apnea, you should do some at-home tests.
What can you do?
First, record yourself sleeping. Yes, it will be long 6 to 8 hours to listen later on, but it will be worthy. This is an excellent way to see how well you sleep and if you talk in your sleep.
This way, you can discover if you moonwalk. You can also ask your partner to keep track of your snoring. This means that your partner should note how loud your snoring is and how frequent it is.
It would be good to note any unusual occurrence, such as choking, strange sounds, or gasping. Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can get in the way of your bed partner’s sleep and rest.
Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is so widespread that it can affect any gender at any age. Even children? Yes, sleep apnea can affect even children. However, there are some risk factors for sleep apnea:
- Being overweight
- Being over 40 years
- Being male
- Having a proven family history of sleep apnea
- Having a nasal obstruction due to different allergies, sinus, or a deviated septum
Sleep Apnea Causes
Specific physical attributed can put a person at risk for getting sleep apnea. Having a receding chin, adenoids, or enlarged tonsils can lead to sleep apnea.
In these cases, your airway may be blocked or even narrowed during sleep because your throat muscles tend to relax more than usual. Also, allergies and other medical conditions can cause nasal congestion can lead to a hard blockage that can lead to sleep apnea.
Furthermore, central sleep apnea is more common in people over 65 and males. This type of sleep apnea is commonly associated with severe illness, such as stroke and neurological disease, which leads us to the effects of sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Affects
If you have sleep apnea and you don’t treat it right, you can expect some severe outcomes. This is why regular doctor’s appointments are essential. You may live with something without knowing it.
So, if left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to the following effects. It can significantly increase the risk f health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Irregular heartbeats
- Impair of ADHD
On top of this, untreated sleep apnea can affect your life on numerous levels, including everyday performance. You may find it more challenging to learn and to concentrate.
You may experience a drop in academic performance if you are a student or struggle with everyday homework if you are a teenager. Being behind a motor vehicle is dangerous.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
If you only suspect that you have sleep apnea, you should see your doctor. Make sure that you go prepared. Take notes on your sleep with you, and make sure that you write down every symptom that you have experienced.
Again, ask your sleep partner to help you with sleeping notes. Be sure that you take your medication list with you if you have one, of course. This includes even over the counter medication.
Usually, this applies only to the first doctor visit. It can’t harm to make a quick call to your medical insurance provider to see if a referral is needed for a visit to a sleep center.
One of the most common methods used in analyzing and determine sleep apnea is a sleep study. This means that an overnight stay at a sleep center is required.
The study monitors:
- sleep state
- eye movement
- heart rate
- blood oxygen levels
- muscle activity
- respiratory effort
A second most common treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). This machine showed some great characteristics, while many complain about some downsides of CPAP machine.
If you are diagnosed with mild or moderate sleep apnea, you can talk with your doctor to try some home remedies.
However, any self-help treatment is not designed to replace doctor’s advice, medical evaluation, and medical treatment. Still, you can incorporate specific lifestyle changes to reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Lifestyle changes to reduce sleep apnea symptoms
Nothing beats lifestyle changes when you want to make drastic changes in your life. Lifestyle change is the option if you’re going to improve something in the long run.
After all, it’s changing the way you live. So, if you are serious about improving your life while dealing with sleep apnea, these are the steps that you should incorporate in your life:
- Lose weight: this is a must if you have extra tissue in the back of your throat. This can create massive problems while sleeping and block the flow of air. You don’t have to lose drastic kilos unless your doctor suggests otherwise. However, even the smallest weight drop can help open up your throat and improve sleep apnea symptoms.
- Quit smoking: if you are not a smoker, ignore this tip. However, if you love to light up a cigarette after a good drink, with first-morning coffee, or before bedtime, this habit is something that you should think about. You should think about quitting smokes. Smoking increases inflammation and fluid retention in your upper airway and your throat.
- Avoid alcohol: this is imperative, especially before bedtime. Alcohol, sedatives, and even sleeping pills are relaxing the muscles in the throat, and it can interfere with breathing.
- Exercise: regular exercise can have positive effects on your body, mood, and even your sleep. Make sure to avoid hard exercise before bedtime.
Also, avoid caffeine as much as possible a minimum of two hours before sleep. Also, avoid heavy meals. Maintain regular sleep hours. A good schedule will help you relax and sleep better.
The Bottom Line
The essential part of living with sleep apnea is that you talk with your doctor about it and follow directions. Any therapy can help if you stick to it.
Think about life habits and what you could improve in your everyday routine. Rethink eating habits. Make sure that you keep a sleeping diary and ask your partner to monitor you in more stressful days.
Be open to new solutions and remain a good daily routine for a peaceful night.