Today we will speak about a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing – repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
There are 3 main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you or your roommate/bed partner notices the following symptoms, you might have an obstructive or central sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
The Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Loud snoring, fatigue, daytime sleepiness, etc.
- Tossing and turning, hyperactivity during sleep.
- Waking up during sleep.
- Headache, dry mouth, sore throat when waking up.
- Increased nocturia.
- Even if you have enough sleep time, you can still feel tired after waking up.
- Inability to think clearly during the day and memory loss.
- In some patients with OSAS, the symptoms may not be obvious, and quite a few people mistakenly believe that fatigue or loud snoring is normal.
What causes sleep apnea?
Let’s speak about each of the 3 main types of sleep apnea one by one.
Obstructive sleep apnea.
It happens when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging for the soft palate, the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
So, when these muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. The level of the oxygen in your blood becomes low. The brain senses this and immediately gives a signal to wake you up and breathe normally. These short awakenings can happen from 5 to 30 times per night. It will result in lack of sleep and the following consequences during the daytime.
Central Sleep Apnea
This is a less common kind of sleep apnea. It occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. Simply speaking, you don’t even try to breathe. You might wake up with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting back to sleep or staying asleep.
Who are at risk of having sleep apnea?
As for the Obstructive Sleep Apnea, people with these factors are more likely to have it:
- Excess weight. Fat can affect your breathing as it may be around your neck.
- Thick neck may result in a narrower airway.
- Narrowed airway. It may be caused by inflammations or other health problems in the area.
- Men are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than women.
- Age. The older, the worse. But not in every case.
- Inherited from family members.
- Alcohol, sedatives and tranquilizers. All of them relax the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking. It causes inflammations and fluids retention.
- Nasal congestion. If nose doesn’t breathe normally, throat won’t be able to work for two.
- Side health problems. Heart failure, blood pressure, diabetes type 2 and etc.
As for the Central Sleep Apnea, people with these factors are more likely to have it:
- Age. Middle-aged and older people have a higher risk of having Central Sleep Apnea.
- Male. Central Sleep Apnea is more common in men than in women.
- Heart disorders. Having congestive heart failure increases the risk.
- Using narcotic pain medications. Opioid medications, especially long-acting ones such as methadone, increase the risk of central sleep apnea.
- Stroke. Having had a stroke increases your risk of central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
How to treat Sleep Apnea?
The first step is a diagnosis. Your doctor may ask you to provide some signs and symptoms based on the observations collected by your bed partner or a roommate. If you live alone or there are other reasons that can’t help in gathering information, the ShutEye: a friend in need is a friend indeed.
The ShutEye has a great number of features and tools that will help you to record your sleep. Whether you snore, sleep talk or make any other possible noise, ShutEye will record it, remember it and in the morning after you turn the tracker off, you will see the report. You can let your doctor listen to it. He/she will make the right decision. As the report produced by ShutEye will be very detailed, correct and scientifically right.
After the symptoms and signs are provided and the diagnosis is set. A treatment begins.
There can be therapies or surgeries. Everything depends on the individual health conditions.
- Continuous positive airway pressure
- Oral appliances
- Treatment for associated health problems
- Supplement oxygen
- Adaptive servo-ventilation
- Tissue removal
- Tissue shrinkage
- Jaw repositioning
- Nerve stimulation
- Creating a new air passageway (tracheostomy)
So, as we may see, there are many ways to treat sleep apnea. Their application depends on individual characteristics. But the most important thing is to set a right diagnosis. Remember, the clearer and more detailed your sleep report is, the faster you will recover, as your doctor will get all necessary information.
This was the article about different types of sleep apnea and the ways of treating it. We hope that it was useful! Stay tuned, healthy and safe!
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