Sleep apnea is a rather serious sleep disorder that happens when a person’s breathing is interrupted when they sleep. When left untreated, a person can potentially stop breathing hundreds of times throughout the night. The result is the brain, along with the rest of the body, may not receive enough oxygen during these moments. Sleep apnea is potentially fatal.
What Is Sleep Apnea
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea which is caused by a blockage in the airway. It occurs when the throat muscle and tongue relax during sleep and partially or completely block the airway. It can also be caused by bone deformities or enlarged tissues in your nose, mouth, or throat. When the airway is blocked whatever the reason, you stop breathing and the amount of oxygen in your blood decreases briefly.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Loud Persistent Snoring
This is the most common symptom of sleep apnea. We don’t talk about light soft noise but tractor-like snoring interrupted time to time by silent periods and choking sounds which are the signs that the person stopped breathing.
Intermittent Interrupted Breathing
As mentioned above, the person suffering from sleep apnea may appear to stop breathing for a short period of time, followed by loud choking sounds afterward when they catch their breath again. Of course, the sufferer is not aware of the episode.
Unexplained Tiredness During The Day
People suffering from sleep apnea always complain of unexplained tiredness and sleepiness during the day. They don’t know it, but their sleep cycles are interrupted multiple times during the night leading to deep and constant exhaustion.
Sufferers are continuously tired and can’t enjoy a full, reparative night of sleep. They are not aware of the repeated sleep interruptions, but their body does. It often translates in irritability, inability to concentrate, forgetfulness, and can even lead to anxiety and depression.
Difficulty to Wake Up
Persons with sleep apnea often struggle to wake up and can show unexplained aggressivity when wakened up, even after a long night. Their sleep being interrupted regularly all night and their brains lacking oxygen during multiple short periods, their body refuse to wake up and exhaustion triggers aggressivity.
Sleep apnea sufferers can wake up covered in sweat, dripping like after running a marathon. The reason is that the body goes into overdrive each time the person stops breathing. The lack of oxygen can trigger a panic response from the body and drench you in sweat.
Morning headaches generated by the lack of oxygen are the worst kind – deep, painful and throbbing. They are the result of the excess of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, which is ultimately a result of a decrease of oxygen.
Home and medical treatments For Sleep Apnea
There are several ways to fight sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes and medical aids can reduce or remove symptoms.
The most common medical treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP — continuous positive airway pressure — device. It’s a breathing machine that prevents your airways from closing during sleep.
- Weight Loss is the main remedy for sleep apnea in overweight persons.
- It’s recommended to limit the use of alcohol and medicine. Alcohol and sleeping aids can worsen the symptoms.
- Nicotine relaxes the throat muscles, so quitting smoking is preferable.
- It’s best to treat promptly all breathing problems such as colds or allergies.
Sleep Habit Changes
- It’s best to sleep on the side. It can even eliminate mild sleep apnea.
- Raising the head of the bed of about 4 inches can help reduce the symptoms. Raising your head with regular pillows won’t work.
- If you’re using a CPAP device, use it every night. As soon as you stop using it, the symptoms will return.