What is sleep apnea?
About 70 million Americans are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, with sleep apnea as the most prevalent. Sleep apnea causes you to do short breathing pauses that occur hundreds of times while you are sleeping, obstructing your natural sleep rhythm. Because you are sleeping, you don’t know about it but you notice how you feel lethargic, unproductive, and feel drained out during the entire day when you don’t do tiresome activities at all.
Sleep apnea affects individuals of all races, ages, and gender. More than 25% of adults have obstructive sleep apnea and up to 4% of children aged 2-8 years old are diagnosed with it. Men are also more prone to having sleep apnea than women.
Two types of sleep apnea
It can be tough to identify on your own if you have sleep apnea because, snoring, the most common symptoms of sleep apnea occur when you are asleep. Before you panic and become desperate to diagnose yourself, it is important that you inform yourself about the two types of sleep apnea that includes:
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea with around 20% of the US population are diagnosed with it. This usually occurs when you are asleep and the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes too, blocking the airway in the process. This causes a person to snore loudly while sleeping.
This type of sleep apnea that involves the central nervous system is not common. It occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control the breathing. Generally, people with central sleep apnea hardly snore.
People suffering from sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 30 times or more every hour. Because of this, they have poor sleeping habits and this can lead to sleepless nights and headaches during the day and expose them to several health problems. While sleep apnea can happen to anyone, some people have a higher risk of acquiring sleep apnea especially those who are over 40, overweight, with large tonsils and tongue, and nasal obstruction due to deviated septum. If anyone in your family suffers from sleep apnea, it is more likely that you will develop it too.
Is sleep apnea life-threatening?
Sleep apnea, when left untreated can lead to several health conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, and depression. It can also increase your risk of experiencing driving accidents.
Fortunately, sleep apnea and snoring can be treated. In fact, there are several treatments available such as adjusting your sleeping habits, using CPAP or continuous positive air pressure, using certain oral appliances, and sometimes, surgery might be necessary to remove the tonsils and other parts of a person’s throat.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor immediately so you will be properly diagnosed and get professional treatment.