Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing continuously stops and resumes while sleeping. Daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and restless sleep are all symptoms of this condition. What you should know about sleep apnea symptoms, causes, when to consult a doctor, and treatment choices.
3 types of Sleep Apnea
The following are the most common types of sleep apnea:
- The most frequent type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) happens when your brain fails to deliver appropriate signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea: This condition occurs when a person has both OSA and CSA at the same time. It is also known as complex sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Certain symptoms are common to all three kinds of sleep apnea:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Disrupted breathing occurs when a person’s respiration becomes laborious or even stops for up to a minute at a time.
- Limited attention span or trouble thinking clearly.
- Morning headaches.
Obstructive sleep apnea is associated with the following symptoms:
- Morning painful throat or dry mouth.
- Snoring, including snoring that is particularly loud and involves gasping, choking, or snorting, which may cause a person to briefly awaken.
- Urine needs to be urinated on a regular basis, which necessitates frequent waking up.
Many of these symptoms are caused by a lack of sleep and low oxygen levels as a result of irregular breathing.
The most prevalent sign of OSA is chronic snoring, but this does not imply that everyone who snores has sleep apnea. In patients with CSA, snoring is not a common symptom.
In most cases, a person suffering from sleep apnea is unaware of their breathing problems at night. As a result, people frequently learn about the problem from a bed partner, family member, or roommate. Excessive daytime sleepiness is the most common sign of sleep apnea in those who live alone.
Factors increasing your risk
Obstructive sleep apnea
- Excessive weight: Obesity significantly raises the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits in the upper airway can restrict breathing.
- The circumference of the neck: Airways may be narrower in people with broader necks.
- A narrowed airway: You might have been born with a narrow throat. Tonsils and adenoids can also grow and restrict the airway, especially in children.
- Being a man: Men are two to three times more likely than women to suffer from sleep apnea. Women, on the other hand, tend to be at greater risk if they are overweight, and their risk looks to climb after menopause.
- Growing older: Sleep apnea is substantially more common in elderly people.
- History of the family: Having a family member who suffers from sleep apnea may raise your risk.
- Use of sedatives, tranquilizers, or alcohol: These medications can cause OSA by relaxing the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking: Smokers are three times as likely than nonsmokers to experience OSA. Smoking can cause an increase in inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
- Congestion in the nose: You are more likely to develop OSA if you have trouble breathing through your nose, whether due to an anatomical condition or allergies.
- Medical problems: Some of the factors that may raise the risk of OSA include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal abnormalities, a history of stroke, and chronic lung diseases such as asthma can all raise the risk.
Central sleep apnea
- Growing older: People in their forties and fifties are more likely to suffer from CSA.
- Being a man: Men are more likely than women to suffer from CSA.
- Heart problems:The danger is increased if you have congestive heart failure.
- Using opioid pain relievers: Opioid drugs, particularly long-acting opioids like methadone, raise the risk of CSA.
- Stroke: A stroke raises your chances of developing CSA or treatment-emergent CSA.
Mixed Sleep Apnea:
- Daytime exhaustion: The frequent awakenings caused by sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible, resulting in significant daytime sleepiness, weariness, and irritability. You may find it difficult to concentrate and fall asleep at work, while watching TV, or even while driving. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more likely to be involved in car accidents and occupational mishaps.
- High blood pressure or cardiac issues: Sudden reductions in blood oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea raise blood pressure and put a load on the cardiovascular system. OSA raises your chances of developing high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Diabetes type 2: Sleep apnea raises your chances of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
- The metabolic syndrome: Excessive blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, high blood sugar, and an enlarged waist circumference are all symptoms of this ailment, which has been related to an increased risk of heart disease.
- Medication and surgical complications: Certain drugs and general anesthesia might cause OSA. People who have sleep apnea are more likely to have issues after major surgery because they have breathing problems, especially when sedated and laying on their backs.
- Problems with the liver: Sleep apnea patients are more likely to have abnormal liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show symptoms of scarring.
- Partners who are sleep deprived: Snoring can prevent anyone sleeping nearby from enjoying a good night’s sleep. It’s fairly uncommon for a partner to have to sleep in another room, or even on a different floor of the house.
How can I naturally get rid of sleep apnea?
Self-care may help you deal with OSA and potentially CSA in some circumstances. Consider the following suggestions:
Get rid of the extra pounds
Even without losing weight, regular exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of OSA. Most days of the week, try to get 30 minutes of moderate activity, such as a brisk stroll.
Alcohol and some drugs, such as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, should be avoided. These loosen the muscles in the back of your throat, making breathing difficult.
Try sleeping on your side or abdomen
When you sleep on your back, your tongue and soft palate might lay against the back of your throat, obstructing your airway. Attaching a tennis ball to the back of your pajama top can help you avoid rolling onto your back while sleeping. There are also commercially available devices that vibrate when you sleep on your back.
If you smoke, search for resources to assist you in quitting.
See also: How To Treat Sleep Apnea
How to Prepare for a Doctor’s Appointment
After you book the appointment, you may need to make a list of the following:
- Your symptoms, including those that appear unrelated to the reason you scheduled the visit, as well as the date they began
- Important personal information, such as a family history of a sleep issue
- All drugs, vitamins, and supplements you use, including the dosages
- What to Ask Your Doctor
- If possible, bring a family member or friend with you to assist you recall the facts. Because your bed partner may be more aware of your symptoms than you are, having him or her with you may be beneficial.
Among the questions you should ask your doctor are:
- What do you think is the most likely source of my symptoms?
- What tests do I require? Do these exams necessitate any additional preparation?
- Is my illness likely to be transient or permanent?
- What options are there for treatment?
- Which treatment do you believe would be most beneficial to me?
- I also have other medical issues. What is the best way for me to handle these problems concurrently?
- Should I see a doctor?
- Is it possible for me to obtain brochures or other printed materials? What websites do you suggest?