Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Natural Remedies Loud snoring, especially during daytime sleepiness or fatigue, can be a symptom of sleep apnea, a common but serious breathing disorder. Here’s what you need to know.
What Can Be Done About Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. These pauses in breathing usually last 10 to 20 seconds and can occur anywhere from 5 to over 100 times per hour.
Sleep Apnea Education
A lack of oxygen wakes you up during a sleep apnea episode—usually for so short a time that you don’t even remember it. However, disrupting your natural sleep rhythm means you spend more time in light sleep and less time in deep, restorative sleep to feel energized, mentally sharp and productive the next day.
Sleep apnea can also lead to a number of health problems—in some cases, death. That’s why it’s important to take it seriously. If you or your bed partner suspect sleep apnea, contact your doctor immediately.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea (and the primary focus of this article). This occurs when the muscles that support the soft tissues of the upper airway relax during sleep and prevent the normal flow of air through the nose and mouth. This usually leads to loud snoring and difficulty breathing.
Central sleep apnea is a less common form of sleep apnea that affects the central nervous system. This happens when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing. This is often due to an underlying medical condition. People with central sleep apnea rarely snore.
When Does Sleep Apnea Become Serious?
When airflow stops during a sleep apnea episode, blood oxygen levels drop. Your brain responds by disrupting your sleep just enough to start breathing—which often starts with gasping or choking. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may not remember this awakening. Most of the time, it will only stir enough to tighten the muscles in the throat and open the trachea. With central sleep apnea, you may be aware that you are awake.
Sleep apnea can be difficult to self-diagnose because the most noticeable symptoms only occur during sleep.
But you can overcome this problem by asking a bed partner to observe your sleeping habits or record yourself while you sleep. If you have pauses in your snoring and wheezing or wheezing after the pauses, these are the main warning signs of sleep apnea.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and not everyone snores. So how do you tell the difference between normal snoring and a more severe case of sleep apnea?
A Simple Snore Or Something More? Sleep Apnea And Snoring
The biggest sign is how you feel during the day. Normal snoring does not impair the quality of your sleep as much as sleep apnea, so you are less likely to feel overly tired and sleepy during the day. The sound of snoring also gives a clue. As mentioned above, you should suspect sleep apnea if you gasp, gasp, or make other unusual sounds.
Remember that even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring problem can interfere with your bed partner’s rest and affect your own sleep quality. But there are some tips and remedies that can help stop snoring.
Like obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is more common in men and people over the age of 65. However, unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is associated with serious medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, neurological disease, or spinal cord injury. Brain stem injury. Some patients with obstructive sleep apnea may develop central sleep apnea while on positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy.
Sleep apnea can cause chronic insomnia, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and an increased risk of accidents and mistakes in your daily activities.
Do You Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea also has psychological effects. It can cause moodiness and irritability, as well as anxiety and depression. It also increases the risk of other serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.
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We Beat Sleep Apnea. It Should Be Easier For You To Do It, Too.
To find out if you have sleep apnea, you need to see a doctor—preferably a sleep medicine specialist. They will assess your symptoms, take your medical history, and perform a sleep study.
A sleep test known as a polysomnogram is still the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea. It’s done in a hospital or sleep lab, where you’re attached to sensors and monitored overnight (or sometimes over two partial nights). However, many people can now test themselves in the comfort of their own homes using portable monitors that measure heart rate, breathing and blood oxygen levels while they sleep.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed based on the number of breathing episodes per hour of sleep, a sleep study, and symptoms such as snoring and daytime sleepiness.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, sleep apnea is graded from mild to severe depending on how often breathing stops:
Snoring And Obstructive Sleep Apnea (osa)
A diagnosis of sleep apnea can be scary. But the good news is that it is treatable. And for most people, the treatment makes a huge difference, both mentally and physically.
For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be enough to treat the problem. Your doctor will let you know if this is a good starting point. But even if you are prescribed medical treatment, the following changes can help reduce sleep apnea episodes and improve your sleep.
Lose weight If you are overweight, losing weight can make a big difference. Although it usually does not cure completely, it can reduce the number of episodes of shortness of breath, lower blood pressure, and reduce daytime sleepiness. Even a small amount of weight loss can open up your throat and improve your sleep apnea symptoms.
Exercise Although exercise does not lead to weight loss, it can reduce episodes of sleep apnea and improve alertness and energy throughout the day. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and yoga are all good options for strengthening airway muscles and improving breathing.
A Guide To Sleep Apnoea: The Causes, Types And Treatment
Sleep on your side. Sleeping on your back is the worst position for sleep apnea because the jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues fall toward the throat, narrowing the airway. Sleeping on your stomach is not much better, as sleeping face down or turning your head to the side both interfere with breathing. Lying on your side, on the other hand, helps keep the airways open. If you find side sleeping uncomfortable, or if you tend to roll onto your back after sleeping, opposite side pillows or body pillows can help.
Avoid alcohol, anti-anxiety medications, and other sedatives, especially before bed, because they relax the throat muscles and interfere with breathing. These include benzodiazepines (eg, Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Ativan), antihistamines (eg, Benadryl, Claritin), opiates (eg, morphine, codeine, Vicodin, Percocet), and sleeping pills.
Keep your head up. Elevate the head of the bed four to six inches, or use foam or special neck pillows to elevate your body from the waist.
At night, open your nasal passages with a nasal dilator, saline spray, breathing strips, or a nasal irrigation system (neti pot).
Suffering From Obstructive Sleep Apnea? Here’s A Cpap Alternative
Give up smoking. Smoking contributes to sleep apnea by causing inflammation and fluid retention in the throat and upper airways.
In addition to lifestyle changes, most people with sleep apnea will need treatments to help their airways clear during sleep. Currently, the most effective treatment for mild to severe sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, therapy.
A CPAP device is a machine that uses a hose and an airtight nosepiece or mask to provide a steady flow of air while you sleep. Air pressure helps keep the airways open, preventing pauses in breathing.
Some people have trouble sleeping with a CPAP machine. But after an adjustment period, most people learn to sleep comfortably. In most cases, you’ll experience immediate symptom relief and a huge boost in mental and physical energy, so it’s worth giving CPAP therapy a real trial.
How To Deal With Sleep Apnea?
CPAP technology is constantly being updated and improved, and new CPAP devices are lighter, quieter, and more comfortable than ever. So even if you’ve abandoned them in the past, you owe it to yourself to give them a second look.
It may take some time to get used to sleeping with a CPAP device. It’s natural to miss “old fashioned” sleep, but there are things you can do
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