Sleep apnea is when your breathing regularly stops and begins again while you’re asleep. In the United States, about twenty percent of adults are afflicted by this condition. Though common, it is still a serious disorder. It can affect your every day life, but also impact your health in general. If you can recognize the symptoms early on, you can take the steps to control your sleeping as well as waking life.
There are three different types of sleep apnea. They may share similar symptoms but the cause of each is different and therefore it is important to figure out which one is affecting you and your rest before you move onto treatment.
Sleep apnea can be caused when your upper airway is blocked off, and your air is stopped from moving through. This is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) because something is literally blocking the airway. Usually this is caused by your throat muscles relaxing too much. Your tongue (or other soft tissues) can fall back and block the air flowing through. This limits the oxygen reaching your lungs. These cause pauses in breathing that can last ten seconds or longer.
There are three types: mild, moderate, and severe OSA. Symptoms can change per person, but these are the most common.
There is snoring, waking up from sleep, a choking or gasping sound while you sleep, and sleepiness during the day despite a good nights’ rest. You can also experience headaches.
Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea (CSA). This happens when the brain can’t send the proper signals to tell your body to breathe. Your body stops doing it’s job because the signals to breathe are being missed by the muscles.
Symptoms include difficulty concentrating, changes in mood, and chronic fatigue.
Complex sleep apnea is also referred to as mixed sleep apnea because it is literally a mixture of the first two types. People can suffer from mixed sleep apnea even when being treated with the CPAP machine. It can be difficult to treat.
There are many health effects associated with sleep apnea. These include a weakened immune system, low oxygen levels in the blood, asthma and acid reflux, high blood pressure and blood sugar, memory problems and depression, and even heart and liver problems.
A lot of people go undiagnosed from sleep apnea. That’s because you have to have a sleep study which can be time consuming and expensive. However, new advances in modern technology have made it more convenient for people to track their own biometrics. You can now accurately test your SpO2, your resting heart rate, and more. By tracking these, users can look at the effects of sleep apnea as well as ways to treat them.
A doctor will want to see a record of your sleep as well as your levels of tiredness during the day. Once diagnosed with sleep apnea, there are ways to treat it. OSA is treated using a CPAP machine. That’s a machine with a mask that covers the mouth and nose and blows air through your airway to make sure it stays open while you’re sleeping.
Other treatments involve positive airway pressure therapy and wearing a dental instrument that will reposition the lower jaw and tongue. There is also surgery that can move the tissue blocking the airway. However, the best ways to treat sleep apnea are lifestyle changes.
You should try losing weight to treat sleep apnea. The best way to do this is staying active. You can also try limiting alcohol, stop smoking, get the best sleep you can, and try changing your sleeping position. You can also try singing, using nasal dilators, and eating early.