If you’re snoring loud enough to wake up yourself and your partner, then this could be a sign of sleep apnea syndrome. This sleep disorder occurs when the upper airway is blocked by the narrowing of the respiratory passages.
However, apnea can have a serious impact on your health if it’s left untreated. Besides daytime sleepiness, people with apnea can also suffer from hypertension, depression and even heart disease. In this article, we’ll explain how this sleep disorder works and what you can do to get a better night’s rest.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea and is due to an obstruction in the throat during sleep. The narrowing of the upper airway can be a result of several factors including inherent physical characteristics, excess weight, and alcohol consumption before going to bed.
Central sleep apnea is caused by a delay in the signal from the brain to breath. With both obstructive and central apnea you must wake up briefly to breathe, sometimes hundreds of times during the night. Usually there is no memory of these brief awakenings.
Sleep apnea syndrome can lead to life threatening illnesses if it’s not treated properly. Consequently, it’s important to know the signs. Loud snoring and gasping are the most common symptoms. Patients also frequently complain of excessive daytime sleepiness, headaches, night sweats, and having to go to the bathroom several times during the night.
The side effects of it range from mild to severe and include high blood pressure, depression, difficulty concentrating and reduced libido. More severe cases can lead to heart attacks, strokes, irregular heartbeat and heart disease. In addition to the health impact, sleep deprivation can impact your life socially.
A sleep test, called polysomnography is usually done in a disorder center to diagnose apnea. Mild cases of sleep apnea syndrome are usually treated by some behavioral changes like losing weight or sleeping on your side. There are also mouth devices that can help keep the airway open by bringing the jaw forward, elevating the soft palate or preventing the tongue from falling back into the airway and blocking breathing.
Moderate to severe apnea is usually treated with a CPAP mask and a CPAP machine. This machine blows air into your nose via a nose mask, keeping the airway open and unobstructed. Some people have facial deformities that may cause the apnea. There are several other surgical apnea treatments like removing excess tissue to clear the airway, moving the tongue forward, and moving the upper and lower jaw forward.
Sleep apnea syndrome is a progressive condition that gets worse as you age, so it’s important to take it seriously. The symptoms of apnea can be made worse by obesity and alcohol consumption, so lifestyle changes should supplement the treatments that your doctor recommends. Taking care of this sleep disorder will allow you to live a healthier – and more restful – life.
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