Sleep apnea symptoms can be noticed by the person experiencing the sleep disorders or by other persons. They include loud snoring, periods of cessation of breaths.
These sleep apnea symptoms can sometimes cause great discomfort to the individual and their partners.
Some people who experience sleep apnea symptoms may not even be aware that they snore.
WHAT IS SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder, whereby breathing repeatedly stops and starts.
You may experience sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and also, you feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
These are the main types of sleep apnea. There are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form which occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea:This occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that are in control of breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
If you think you might be experiencing any form of sleep apnea, it is important you see your doctor.
Treatment for sleep apnea can help to ease your symptoms and may also help in preventing heart problems and other complications.
SLEEP APNEA CAUSES
Sleep apnea causes are going to be discussed under the types of sleep apnea.
Causes of obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles that are in the back of your throat relax.
These muscles support the soft palate, the tonsils, the triangular piece of tissue that is hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the side walls of the throat and also the tongue.
When these muscles relax, your airway becomes narrows or closes as you breathe in, which makes it difficult for you to get an adequate breath in. This may even lower the level of oxygen that is in your blood.
Your brain becomes sensitive to this inability to breathe well and briefly wakes you up from sleep so that your airway can be reopened. This awakening is usually brief, and most times you don’t even remember it.
Sometimes, you may make a choking, snorting or choking sound. This pattern can be repeated for about 5 to 30 times or more in an hour, all night long. This disruption causes impairment in your ability to reach the desired deep and restful phases of sleep, which can probably leave you feeling sleepy during your waking hours.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are sometimes aware that their sleep is been interrupted, there sometimes even think that they slept well all night.
Causes of central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea. This occurs when your brain fails in transmitting signals to you’re the muscles that control breathing. This means that you make no effort to breathe for a short period of time.
You may wake up with shortness of breath or you may have difficulty in getting to sleep or staying asleep.
SLEEP APNEA SYMPTOMS
Sleep apnea symptoms can sometimes be confusing; especially the signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apneas.
There sometimes overlap, making the type of sleep apnea more difficult to determine.
The most common sleep apnea symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
- Loud snoring, which is usually more common in obstructive sleep apnea
- Headaches, especially in the mornings
- Episodes of cessation in breathing during sleep, which can be witnessed by another person
- An abrupt awakening, which may be accompanied by shortness of breath, which more likely indicates symptoms central sleep apnea
- Problems with attention
- Awakening with a sore throat or dry mouth
- Sleeping excessively in daytime (hypersomnia)
It is important you consult a doctor or medical professional if you experience any of the following, or if your partner notices the following:
- Snoring that is loud enough to disturb the sleep of others and yourself
- Gasping for air, shortness of breath or choking that is capable of waking you from sleep
- An intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
- Excessive drowsiness during the daytime drowsiness. This may cause you to fall asleep while you’re watching television, working or even when you’re driving.
Lots of people do not take snoring serious or think of it as a sign of something potentially serious.
Not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. But ensure to talk to your doctor if you experience any loud snoring, especially the type of snoring that is punctuated by periods of silence.
RISK FACTORS FOR SLEEP APNEA
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, including children.
They are certain factors that increase your risk of sleep apnea. There include the following:
For Obstructive sleep apnea;
- Excessive weight
- Family history
- Being male
- Thicker neck circumference
- Having a narrowed airway
- Being older
- Use of tranquilizers, sedatives or alcohol
- Nasal congestion
For Central sleep apnea
- Heart disorders
- Use of narcotic pain medications
- Being older
COMPLICATIONS OF SLEEP APNEA
Some of the complications of sleep apnea include the following:
- Fatigue during the day
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Heart problems or hypertension
- Metabolic syndrome
- Liver problems
- Complications following medications and surgery
- Partners that are sleep deprived
SLEEP APNEA TREATMENT
In milder cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend some lifestyle changes. These lifestyle changes may include; losing weight or to quit smoking. If you have nasal allergies, treatment for allergies may be recommended by your doctor.
If these lifestyle changes and treatment of allergies don’t improve the sleep apnea symptoms, or if your sleep apnea is moderate to severe, a number of other apnea treatments are available.
There are some devices can help to open up a blocked airway. In some other cases, surgery may be necessary. Apnea treatments for obstructive sleep apnea may include the following:
- Use of supplemental oxygen: Use of supplemental oxygen while sleeping may help especially if you have central sleep apnea.
- Treatment for some associated medical problems: Treating some of the possible causes of central sleep apnea such as heart or neuromuscular disorders may help in easing sleep apnea symptoms.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): This is use in obstructive sleep apnea. It involves wearing a pressurized mask over your nose while sleeping.
- Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV): this airway device learns your normal breathing pattern, and stores this information in a built- in computer. After you must have fallen asleep, this machine uses pressure to help in normalizing your pattern of breathing and also preventing any pauses in your breathing.
- Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP).This device, unlike CPAP, builds to a higher pressure when you inhale oxygen and decreases to a lower pressure when you exhale.
This treatment assists the weak breathing pattern of sleep apnea.goal of this treatment is to assist the weak breathing pattern of central sleep apnea.
Some of the BiPAP devices can be set to automatically deliver a breath when the device detects that you haven’t taken a breath after so many seconds.
- Expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP).These are small, single-use devices. There are placed over each nostril before you go to sleep. This device is a valve which allows air to move in freely, but when you exhale, the air must go through small holes in the valve.
This device may help in reducing snoring and daytime sleepiness in people who have mild obstructive sleep apnea.
- Oral appliances. This device is designed to keep your throat open. It can help in relieving snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea.
- Surgery: Some of the surgical options may include the following:
- Tissue removal
- Tracheostomy (Creating a new air passageway)
- Jaw repositioning
- Nasal surgery
- Surgical operation to remove the tonsils or adenoids
- Weight-loss surgery