Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be potentially severe, characterized by the intermittent cessation and resumption of breathing during sleep. If you snore loudly and continue to feel excessively tired despite getting a full night’s sleep, it could be a sign that you might be experiencing sleep apnea.
The consequent lack of oxygen triggers a survival reflex, that briefly wakes you up so that you can start breathing again. Your sleep pattern is disturbed even though that reflex keeps you alive. Because of this, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep and it may also have other negative effects, such as straining your heart, which may be fatal.
These are the forms of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the more prevalent type, which happens when the throat muscles relax and obstruct the passage of the air to the lungs.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA), which happens when improper signals from the brain are sent to the respiratory muscles.
- Treatment–emergent central sleep apnea, often referred to as complicated sleep apnea, this condition occurs when someone with OSA, as determined by a sleep study, converts to CSA while undergoing treatment for OSA.
Consult your doctor if you suspect that you may have sleep apnea. Treatment can help you feel better and may help you avoid consequences like heart disease.
It can be challenging to distinguish between obstructive and central sleep apneas since their symptoms sometimes overlap. Obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms most frequently reported include:
- Sleep–related episodes in which you cease breathing, which would be noticed by someone else.
- Snoring loudly
- Gasping for air while sleeping
- Problems with concentration while awake.
- Being irritable.
- Having a dry mouth when you wake up.
- Having a headache in the morning.
- Alterations in mood such as anxiety and depression.
- Insomnia or problems of keeping a good sleep or staying asleep.
- Hypersomnia, which is an excessive amount of daytime sleepiness.
While loud snoring can be a warning sign of a potentially serious problem, it’s important to note that not all individuals with sleep apnea snore. If you are experiencing symptoms associated with sleep apnea such as persistent tiredness, sleepiness, or irritability, it is highly recommended to consult with your healthcare physician. It is crucial to discuss any sleep–related issues that impact your daily functioning with a medical professional.
Obstructive sleep apnea
When the muscles in the back of the throat relax, this kind of sleep apnea occurs. These muscles provide support for the tonsils, the soft palate, the uvula, the tongue, and the side walls of the throat.
Your airway narrows or shuts as you inhale when the muscles relax. You aren’t getting enough air, which might cause your blood’s oxygen level to drop. Your brain detects that you are having trouble breathing, quickly rousing you to allow you to reopen your airway. Usually, this revelation is so fleeting that you don’t recall it.
Snorting, choking, or gasping episodes may occur during sleep. This recurring pattern can happen anywhere from 5 to 30 times or even more per hour throughout the entire night, making it challenging to attain the rejuvenating and deep stages of sleep.
Central sleep apnea
When your brain fails to communicate with your breathing muscles, you get this less frequent type of sleep apnea. In other words, you briefly stop breathing without trying. Shortness of breath or trouble falling or staying asleep could cause you to wake up.
Anyone, even children, can be affected by sleep apnea. However, a few things make you more vulnerable.
Obstructive sleep apnea
The following factors raise the likelihood of developing this type of sleep apnea:
- Gender. Sleep apnea affects men two to three times more frequently than it does women. Women who are overweight or who have through menopause, however, run a higher risk.
- Old age. Older persons are substantially more likely to experience sleep apnea.
- Family history. A family history of sleep apnea may make you more susceptible.
- Race. Black, Hispanic or of Asian descent are prone to have this problem.
- Being overweight. OSA risk is significantly increased by obesity as the upper airway’s surrounding fat deposits may block breathing.
- Neck circumference. It’s possible that people with larger necks have narrower airways.
- Narrow airway. Perhaps you were born with a narrow throat. Adenoids or tonsils can potentially enlarge and obstruct the airway, especially in young children.
- Nasal congestion. You are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea if you have problems breathing via your nose, whether due to anatomical issues or allergies.
- Medical conditions. Among the illnesses that may raise the risk of obstructive sleep apnea include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Risk factors include having polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal issues, a history of stroke, and persistent lung conditions including asthma.
- Alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers consumption. These medications and substance can make obstructive sleep apnea worse by loosening the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking. Obstructive sleep apnea is three times as common among smokers than it is in non–smokers. Smoking can make the upper airway more inflammatory and fluid–retained.
Central sleep apnea
The following are risk factors for this type of sleep apnea:
- Old age. The risk of central sleep apnea is increased in middle–aged and older persons.
- Gender. Men are more likely than women to experience central sleep apnea.
- Heart disease. Congestive cardiac failure raises the danger.
- Taking narcotic pain medications. Central sleep apnea is made more likely by opioid medications, especially long–acting ones like methadone.
- Stroke. The likelihood of developing central sleep apnea after a stroke rises.