When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing stops and restarts while they sleep, thereby reducing the oxygen level in the body.
Sleep apnea leads to symptoms such as loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, and restless sleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea, namely: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
This is the most frequent type of sleep apnea. It is characterised by the intermittent collapse of the upper airways while sleeping, lowering or entirely stopping airflow.
Obesity, huge tonsils, overweight, or hormonal changes can cause constriction of the airways and raise the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
Central Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The airway is not obstructed by this type. But it occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to problems with the respiratory control centre.
It is associated with the operation of the central nervous system. Central sleep apnea is particularly common in persons with neuromuscular disease, such as motor neuron disease, stroke, heart failure or other forms of heart, kidney, or lung disease.
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
- High levels of stress
- Sleep deprivation
- Posture while sleeping
- Alcoholic or sedative consumption
- Nasal congestion
- Body weight
- Use of opioid drugs and medications that affect breathing
- Being at a high altitude
- Older age
- Being male
- Family history of sleep apnea
Though the disorder can affect anyone, the above-listed factors make one more vulnerable.
Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
Regular or primary snoring is distinct from this syndrome. Primary snoring may be brought on by disorders of the nose or throat, sleeping positions (particularly on one’s back), age or being overweight, and alcohol or other depressants. The tissues at the back of your throat vibrate during sleep, which causes both primary snoring and sleep apnea-related snoring. However, those who have sleep apnea typically:
- Snore louder than those with regular snoring
- Pause during breathe intake (for over 10 seconds)
- Take shallow breaths, gasp, or choke
- Feel Restless
- Wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Have a morning headache.
- Have difficulty concentrating during the day.
- Experience excessive daytime sleepiness
- Get depressed or anxious
- Feel a constant need to pee at night
- Have night sweats
- Suffer from sexual dysfunction
Sleep Apnea Treatments
Common sleep apnea treatments include breathing devices such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines and lifestyle changes. If these treatments do not work, surgery is recommended to correct the problem causing sleep apnea.
Most people with sleep apnea are unaware that they have a disorder, but when treated, it leads to a longer life. When sleep apnea is not recognised or treated, it causes a lack of quality sleep. It also causes difficulty concentrating, making judgements, remembering things, and controlling actions. Sleep apnea has also been related to significant health consequences.