When people are sleeping, they can make grunting or snorting sound, commonly known as snoring. Not unless you are sharing sleeping space with someone, most probably, it will be hard to know that you are snoring. Even though snoring is annoying, if there are no other underlying causes behind it, there is no cause for alarm. However, if it is coupled with other symptoms, then you have a reason to pay a visit to your doctor to rule out the possibility of sleep apnea.
There are two types of sleep apnea. The most common type is known as obstructive sleep apnea whose cause is a blockage in the airway. Whereby the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapse when one is sleeping. The other type is called central sleep apnea. With this type, even though the airway is not blocked, the brain fails to inform the muscles to breathe.
The good news is that there is a treatment for this disorder. However, diagnosis is still a challenge. To find out if you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, below are the most common signs that can help you make an informed choice. They include:
When it comes to sleep apnea, you cannot skip loud snoring. The most challenging part is how to distinguish the usual snoring that is just annoying and potential sleep apnea. If you suspect that someone is suffering from sleep apnea, take your time and listen to their snoring more keenly. If you notice the sound of gasping for breath, choking sounds and loud snorting, then it is time to book an appointment with a sleep specialist or a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Sleep apnea is a disorder whereby a person is unable to breathe when sleeping. Many people who suffer from sleep apnea appear to stop breathing entirely during sleep and end up making a loud and uncontrollable noise as they try to catch their breath again. Surprisingly, most people who experience such things are not even aware of them. They only get to learn about it if they happen to sleep near someone else. If you live alone, consider seeing a doctor for a more thorough opinion if you wake up too often at night, experience shortness of breath and feel tired the following day.
Insomnia is a condition where the person suffering from it is unable to fall asleep or stay asleep even when you have a chance to enjoy quality sleep. At one point or another, most people have experienced sleepless nights depending on what one is going through. That is perfectly normal. For insomnia, the sleepless night can become the order of the day since the more you fail to sleep, the harder it will be for you to fall asleep in the future. With sleep apnea in the mix, it becomes physically impossible for you to enjoy a quality sleep cycle.
Waking up in the morning with a dry mouth, lips and sore throat is a common symptom in regards to sleep apnea. This occurs because the saliva produced is not enough to moisturize the said body parts. When someone sleeps with their mouth open during the night, the produced saliva often dries up. This causes one to wake up with dry, cracked lips and scratchy throat. A person can also suffer from irritation when swallowing food and drinks.
However, apart from sleep apnea, dry mouth can be caused by other things such as poor diet, excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks and smoking. Therefore, view the symptoms holistically and figure out the exact problem.
The effects of untreated sleep apnea
After insomnia, sleep apnea is the next common sleep disorder. In fact, it is estimated that about 10 percent of the United States adult population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea. Besides, between 40 percent and 80 percent of these people are not even aware of what they could be suffering from. There is also the percentage of those who know but choose not to be diagnosed.
Untreated sleep apnea can lead to the development of several chronic health issues, which will result in increased healthcare expenses. All of these can be avoided. Most people assume that sleep apnea is not a severe disorder. But when you become aware of the possible side effects, you will surely change your mind.
Sleep apnea is a potentially fatal sleep disorder. A person suffering from sleep apnea tends to have an interruption of breathing during sleep. This can lead to inadequate oxygen distribution in the body and brain. Even though some people may fail to notice any difference in the beginning, long term side effects will prevail as time goes by.
Side effects of sleep apnea
Below are some of the consequences of untreated sleep apnea.
When you are suffering from sleep apnea, you are more likely to be sleep-deprived. You will not have a good sleep due to frequent fragment every night caused by sleep apnea’s dysfunctional breathing sequence. As a result, your body and brain fail to receive the natural healing and restorative rest as it should be the case.
When you fail to get a night of good sleep, you are more likely to be prone to workplace accidents, car crashes and even sleep-related traffic accidents. Untreated sleep apnea is a primary culprit to increased risk of accidents during the operation of a motor vehicle or job-related accidents.
High blood pressure
If you are already suffering from blood pressure, sleep apnea can make things even worse. Your body becomes stressed if you wake up frequently during the night. Your blood pressure levels tend to rise because your hormone systems go into overdrive. Further, if you are not able to breathe correctly, the level of oxygen in your blood drastically reduces, and all these may worsen the condition.
However, if you have sleep apnea and get help, it can make all the difference. Your blood pressure may improve to the extent of cutting back on your BP medications. Please, note that it is not recommended to stop or change your dose before consulting with your doctor.
If there are people who are more likely to suffer from heart attacks, these are people with obstructive sleep apnea. This could be due to the stress of waking up so often or the supply of low oxygen in the body. The body is not able to take in oxygen the right way due to disruptions of the disorder. Hence, the brain finds it difficult to control the blood flow in the brain itself and arteries.
Sleep apnea treatment
When it comes to the treatment of sleep apnea, there are many options. Lifestyle changes such as no smoking and weight loss are recommended for milder cases of sleep apnea. More so, if you happen to have nasal allergies, the first thing your doctor will consider is their treatment.
When diagnosed, sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder that requires medical attention. The most common treatment method for sleep apnea recommended by sleep physicians is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy. It is a machine that is used to deliver air pressure through a mask when someone is sleep. It will help your upper airway passages open and prevent snoring and apnea. If you are suffering from moderate to severe sleep apnea, this option may be the treatment for you.
While CPAP is the most reliable and standard method of treating the disorder, some people are comfortable using it. They find it cumbersome and end up giving up on the machine. However, with time and practice, you can learn how to adjust the tension of the mask’s straps and find a comfortable way to fit it. Don’t be afraid to try more than one type of mask until you find the most comfortable one.
Over the same, if you are not satisfied with the CPAP option, there are other alternatives such as
- Tongue reduction surgery
- Weight management program
- Positional therapy
- Lifestyle changes
- MME ( maxillomandibular expansion)
- GGA (genioglossus advancement)
Hopefully, the above information will provide you with all of the necessary tools you need to deal with sleep apnea. You can also help a family member or a friend.