How do you know if you have sleep apnea? Thanks to the wonderful technology of online resources, millions of sleep apnea patients are now aware of their current health condition and sleep apnea symptoms. Sleep apnea is a very common sleeping disorder affecting more than twelve million people. Studies show that the male-to-female ratio of sleep apnea patient is 2:1 or higher. Men snore at least twice as much as women do that it actually becomes a diagnosable condition! To be more specific, sleep apnea also affects people over forty and the young African American population the most. It is also promoted by being overweight, high blood pressure, having problems in the nose and throat, and smoking. These are all significant factors that can contribute to experiencing sleep apnea. But what about the symptoms? How do we know if we have sleep apnea or just a bad case of snoring?
Sleep apnea comes in three forms and all of them have different symptoms. The first is Obstructive sleep apnea. It is the most common form and is caused by an airway blockage that results in the collapsing and closing of the tissue at the back of the throat during sleep. To put it simpler, a person who suffers from this form of sleep apnea unconsciously experiences a sudden cessation on snoring followed by a silence because of the stoppage in breathing. This alternating pattern of snoring and silence can repeat over a hundred times a night causing poor sleep quality. This is one of the first symptoms to be detected for sleep apnea sufferers. Central sleep apnea is the second form of this disorder and it is brain related. What happens is the nerve signals are not sent to the muscles intended for breathing which causes the breathing problems to get irregular even when there is no blockage in the airways. This irregular breathing is a second symptom to look for. Finally, Mixed sleep apnea is a mixture of the central and obstructive sleep apneas. Despite the different names, you may now conclude that those three forms have the same effect, that the patient stops breathing while sleeping. Think about the life-threatening possibilities and the danger of this experience while you are in an unconscious state of mind! Sleep apnea is a very serious disorder that should be treated with extreme caution.
It is very difficult for anyone to determine if they are suffering from any type of sleep apnea simply because the condition is a sleep disorder and it is impossible to monitor yourself while sleeping. Seek out assistance! A member of your family, for example, can be the most credible in helping you evaluate these matters.
The main symptoms of sleep apnea happen while sleeping. The individual suffering may be unaware of the symptoms such as loud snoring due to breath recovery. They might also be unaware of the silence that comes immediately after, which is due to the inability to breathe caused by the blockage of the airway. Another symptom is the lack of rapid eye movement or REM sleep. Most normal people experience REM whenever they enter a deeper stage of sleeping. This is characterized by the fluttering of the eyelids while sleeping. You may have observed this natural movement of the eye from a normal person who is sleeping. This is easy to observe in children who are healthier and more capable of having a deep sound sleep. REM is impossible for sleep apnea patients because of the blockage in the airways and the lack of breath. The brain of the patient sends signals to the muscles for their breathing to continue again but they never enter a deep state of sleep. This causes constant tossing and turning in bed and a very poor sleep quality.
Aside from the symptoms experienced while sleeping, there are also obvious changes in behavior which can be considered as symptoms related to sleep apnea. They include irritability and excessive sleepiness that can even cause sleeping while driving. They also include less interest in sexual activities and memory problems. If one of your family members is complaining about your loud snoring and, at the same time, you are experiencing some changes that are affecting your daily normal activities, seek medical advice immediately! Untreated sleep apnea can be life-threatening and can develop into high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, impotence, and headaches.
Becoming aware of and treating your sleep apnea symptoms will help you and others in your family to continue with a normal lifestyle. Sleep apnea can be life-threatening so don’t let this hinder you in experiencing a happier life with your loved ones.