What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a rather common but serious disorder when breathing is repeatedly interrupted as you sleep. A lot of people may have this disorder but are not aware, because these interruptions typically happen when they are asleep. The interruptions are short breathing pauses that can occur up to hundreds of times in a single night, jolting you out of your natural sleep each time.
Someone with this condition will either have a hypopnea (where their breathing is severely restricted) or apnea (where they completely stop breathing). Each hypopnea or apnea cycle limits the level of oxygen in the body and consequently increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the blood. This signals the brain to wake the body so that it can breathe again. These incidences can happen hundreds of times each night leaving you tired and vulnerable to various types of chronic diseases.
What You Need to Know About Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Most people treat snoring as something to be embarrassed about or as a joke. However snoring, especially loud snoring accompanied by fatigue throughout the day, may be a telltale sign of an underlying sleeping disorder. This disorder is referred to as sleep apnea; it takes a huge toll on your health and quality of life. Fortunately, it is a manageable and treatable condition as long as you discover your symptoms and take necessary steps to treat it.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The most common type of this disorder is the Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where the upper wall of the airway including the tongue relaxes during sleep, often resulting to loud snores.
The other type is the central sleep apnea, which is less common. It is caused by a malfunction of the brain that controls the breathing system during sleep. As such, when one sleeps, the brains ‘forgets’ to tell the body to breath, resulting to total inability to breath. The third type is the complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of the central and obstructive sleep apnea. The final one is positional sleep apnea, which is a form of obstructive sleep apnea that is triggered by position of sleep –typically when someone sleeps on their back.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Snoring is the most recognizable of symptoms. However, snoring does not necessarily mean you have apnea, while some people with sleep apnea don’t snore. The best way to discern this disorder’s symptoms is by focusing on how you feel during the day.
Chronic sleep deprivation triggered by sleep apnea is likely to result to slow reflexes, daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, irritability, moodiness, and depression. Such symptoms are also associated with a myriad of physical health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, liver problems, hypertension, and weight gain.
- Loud and chronic snoring
- Daytime fatigue sleepiness no matter how long you sleep.
- Concentration problems and forgetfulness
- Having to frequently go to the bathroom.
- Pauses in breathing
- Fitful sleep, nighttime awakenings or insomnia
- Shortness of breath at night
- Sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
- Uncharacteristic moodiness, depression, or irritability
- Morning headaches
- Snorting, choking or gasping during sleep
- Impotence/ erectile dysfunction
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Anyone can have this condition. However, you are more susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea if you are: male above the age of 50, overweight, thick neck (over 40 cm in circumference), having high blood pressure and a family history of sleep apnea. Moreover, Hispanics, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders are more at risk. On the other hand, central sleep apnea is often associated with chronic illness, such as stroke, heart disease, neurological disease, or brainstem or spinal injury.
Having established that sleep apnea can take a severe toll on your emotional and physical health, it is important to treat the condition as soon as possible. This is only possible if you can recognize the symptoms highlighted in this article. Fortunately, with the right self-help strategies coupled with having professional treatment, you can call 1-844-9MEDICO to help you get your sleep back on track and help you lead a more healthy lifestyle free of sleep apnea symptoms. Some self-help strategies include:
- Losing weight
- Quitting smoking
- Avoiding alcohol, sedatives and sleeping pills particularly before bedtime
- Working out regularly: this will help you lose weight and strengthen body muscles to reduce sleep apnea symptoms
- Avoiding heavy meals and caffeine before going to bed
- Maintaining regular sleep hours
- Avoiding sleeping on your back; sleeping on your side is recommended
The bottom line is that there are many things you can do on your own (lifestyle modifications and home remedies) to treat this condition. However, they are not a substitute for medical treatment and evaluation.
If you think you show symptoms of sleep apnea, fill out our appointment form or give us a call to learn more about a sleep study and diagnosis.
As part of our commitment to the geriatric community, we partner with Medicaid, Medicare and other financial resource groups. You can learn more about our payment options here. Our unique medical and dental model can help answer many of the complex issues surrounding the elderly population. In addition, we also have geriatric specialists and programs at many of our locations throughout DFW and San Antonio. We also provide Insurance Benefit Consultants at many of our clinics to go over benefits and assist you in knowing what all is available to you through your insurance plan.