Sleep Apnea – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

You should not overlook if you or someone around you snores loudly. It is not only a habit but in most cases, loud snores are an indication of sleep apnea. According to health experts, it is a common sleep disorder that leads to constant shortness of breath during your sleep. This condition affects your lifestyle in many ways.

For instance, if you have developed sleep apnea, you may feel tired and exhausted during the day. Sleep apnea is not life-threatening but is serious to some extent. It can also land you in embracing situation which you can avoid by learning the symptoms of this sleep disorder.

What is Sleep Apnea?

In sleep apnea, the rhythm of your breaths interrupted for a few seconds. It is quite strange that you do not feel this brief interruption of breathing. However, it leaves you exhausted during the daytime.

Sleep apnea lowers your energy levels and affects your productivity. Studies have shown one of the common kinds of sleep apnea that is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs due to blocked airways which cause a brief pause in breathing and loud snoring.

Types of Sleep Apnea

It is essential to treat sleep apnea as it affects your physical and psychological health adversely. There are three types of sleep apnea

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Complex sleep apnea

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When you sleep, there is a chance that the soft tissue at the back of your throat relaxes. Thus, it blocks your airway, and hence, you start snoring loudly.

2. Central Sleep Apnea

This type is connected to the center of your nervous system. In this case, your brain becomes unable to signal the muscles that manage breathing. However, you rarely snore in this condition.

3. Complex Sleep Apnea

Health experts reveal the complex sleep apnea is a blend of obstructive and central sleep apnea types.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

In most cases, it becomes challenging to identify sleep apnea. If you have the sleep disorder, you will probably be unaware of the symptoms. However, if someone sleeps with you, they can observe the brief interruption of breathing, sudden grunts, gasps, wakes up, and then continue to sleep.

You can detect the sleep disorder by sleepiness in the daytime due to disturbed sleep pattern at night. It is worth noting that you may develop sleep apnea if you have a large neck circumference than usual. For instance, it is large than 15 inches for women and large than 17 inches for men.

Furthermore, the following are additional symptoms of sleep apnea.

  • A morning headache
  • Urge to urinate several times at night
  • Lack of concentration
  • Insomnia or improper sleep pattern
  • A sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
  • Sudden heartburn
  • Constant irritation

Causes

There are following factors that lead to blocking of the airway.

1. Brain Function

In the case of central sleep apnea (CSA), inadequate functioning of neurological controls contributes to the malfunctioning of natural breathing rhythm. CSA occurs due to underlying medical problems like cardiac arrest. Moreover, excess use of pain relief medication also leads to CSA.

2. Muscular Changes

The tongue and muscles that keep your airway open relax when you sleep. This condition narrows the airway. Although this kind of relaxation does not impact the in and out airflow of your lungs, in sleep apnea, it does.

3. Physical Obstruction

Extra fat stores or thick muscle in the airway restricts airflow and air that passes through it causes loud snoring.

Here are a few risk factors associated with sleep apnea:

  • Down syndrome
  • Menopause
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Obesity
  • Large adenoids
  • The family history of sleep disorder
  • Smoking

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Chronic health complications such as depression, lack of concentration, heart attract or other cardiovascular issues lead to sleep apnea. You can find different treatment methods to treat the sleep disorder as per its level. With the help of the treatments, you can normalize your breathing and sleep for hours without interruption.

A normal sleep pattern will affect your overall health and eliminate sudden fatigue in the daytime, irritation, lack of concentration, and prevent heart problems that excess strain of interrupted breathing cause.

Following are some effective treatments for sleep apnea.

Surgery

You can opt for surgery in case of obstructive sleep apnea to widen your airway. In the surgical treatment, the doctor will remove excess tissue or enlarged tonsils. Your doctor will also monitor the level of surgery and carry out the treatment accordingly.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy

It is considered an effective treatment for sleep apnea. In CPAP, your airway is kept open via a constant stream of air pressure using a mask. You can adjust the mask and settings and add moisture to the air. This air can also relieve nasal symptoms.

Mandibular Repositioning Device (MRD)

It is a custom-made oral device which is beneficial for patients with mild to moderate OSA. This device is used to create more space behind the tongue. MRD holds your jaw in a forward position when you sleep, keeps your upper airway open, and prevents snoring. Take note that using the device has certain adverse effects such as temporomandibular joint disease and jaw or tooth pain.

Alternative Treatments

Making lifestyle changes can help relieve your condition. You should opt for following changes to prevent this brief interruption of breathing during sleep.

1. Smoking

You need to quit smoking if you are a smoker and have developed sleep apnea. Smoking increases fluid retention and inflammation in your upper airway and throat.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise improves the duration and quality of your sleep alike. Health experts suggest that resistance training and aerobic reduce sleep apnea symptoms. You can also opt for yoga to improve breathing and to strengthen muscles in your airways.

3. Caffeine and Meals

Avoid consuming heavy meals and caffeine before bedtime. You should stop eating at least two hours before sleep.

4. Shed Extra Pounds

Obese individuals are likely to develop sleep apnea due to the extra tissue in the back of their throat. This extra tissue falls and blocks airflow during sleep. So, losing some weight can prevent sleep apnea.

5. Sleeping Pills and Sedatives

Avoid taking sedatives or pills before the bedtime to avoid muscles relaxation in your throat. This way, the muscles will not interfere with breathing.

6. Establish a Sleep Pattern

You need to build a sleep routine and stick to it. Getting sufficient sleep can help you reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea.

Bottom Line

Sleep apnea is silent but a serious sleep disorder. If your snores are loud, visit your doctor for a thorough examination and effective treatment.