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What is sleep apnea?
27 Feb 2022
What is sleep apnea? image

Sleep apnea is a critical sleep disorder in which your breathing repeatedly stops and resumes while you are sleeping. If left untreated, it can lead to loud snoring, daytime fatigue, and more serious issues such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Even Though sleep apnea can affect anyone, it is particularly common in overweight elderly men.

Different types of sleep apnea

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the soft tissue in the back of your throat compresses, causing your airways to become totally or partially closed during sleep. Your diaphragm and chest muscles work harder than usual to open your airways during these episodes. You might start gasping for air or jerking your body. This can disrupt your sleep, reduce oxygen delivery to your essential organs, and cause irregular heart rhythms.

  1. Central sleep apnea

Your airway does not become blocked with this type. Instead, due to problems in your respiratory control center, your brain fails to signal your muscles to breathe. It has something to do with the way your central nervous system works. People with neuromuscular illnesses are more likely to have central sleep apnea.

  1. Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Complex sleep apnea syndrome or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, develops when a person has both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea have almost the same symptoms. Common symptoms for both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea are:

  • Struggle to take breath during sleep
  • Difficulty to stay in sleep
  • Loud snoring problem
  • Waking up dehydrated and dry mouth
  • Headache when waking up
  • Insomnia
  • Hypersomnia

Causes of sleep apnea

  • Obesity in people which causes breathing disorders obesity hypoventilation syndrome.
  • hypothyroidism, acromegaly, and polycystic ovary syndrome are endocrine disorders that can impact your breathing while you’re sleeping.
  • Lung diseases like asthma, pulmonary fibrosis and COPD
  • Pregnancy
  • Heart and kidney failure can let fluids build up on your neck and block the upper respiratory pathway.

Can sleep apnea be cured?

Yes. Sleep apnea is curable with proper treatments. Methods like CPAP and oral appliances work well, but they are not a permanent cure for sleep apnea. Losing weight or having surgery to remove excess tissue from the throat are the two surefire ways to get rid of this health condition for good.

Home remedies for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea treatment can start at home before taking it to doctors if it is not that severe. Few home remedies to deal with sleep apnea are:

  • Trying yoga: Yoga’s varied breathing exercises might help you increase your oxygen levels. As a result, yoga can help you sleep better by reducing the number of times you wake up.
  • Changing sleeping position: studies have shown changes in sleeping positions did work for improved sleeping patterns and sleep apnea.
  • Avoid alcohol and smoking: Changes in your lifestyle can help you sleep better and enhance your health. To avoid sleep apnea issues, consider stopping smoking and minimising your alcohol intake.
  • Use oral appliances: using oral appliances while sleeping can keep your air pathways open.

What happens if sleep apnea is left untreated?

If left untreated, it can lead to wakening of much worse health conditions like heart diseases, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, stroke, and heart attack.

Taking treatment for sleep apnea at its earliest stages can prevent further compliations too.

Is sleep apnea life threatening?

Sleep apnea can be life-threatening because it is linked to several life-threatening illnesses. It has the potential to induce or aggravate chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, due to these factors sudden cardiac death can be caused by sleep apnea. 

If you have been facing sleeping disorders lately and you think that you have a breathing problem, seek help from a doctor and ask your doctor to test you for sleep apnea. If you have a history of stroke, heart disease, diabetes, or any chronic illness it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor ASAP.

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