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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

How can you know if snoring is a severe sleeping condition or just an unpleasant habit if you or a loved one snore frequently? First, if you notice any additional indications or symptoms, consult your dentist or doctor to check whether you have sleep apnea.

When an individual’s breathing is disrupted while sleeping, this is known as sleep apnea. If left untreated, a person’s breathing may cease hundreds of times during the night, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain and other body parts.

The name “apnea” comes from Greek and means “without breath.” Sleep apnea is defined by breathing interruptions during sleep. The pauses can range anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and they frequently happen five to thirty times each hour or more.

Snoring or the loud noise of air flowing through the airway is a typical symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can cause pauses in breathing, which are commonly followed by snoring or choking sounds as the person attempts to force air through a restricted or collapsed airway. However, it’s crucial to remember that snoring isn’t always a sign of sleep apnea, which can happen without it.

Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose since the person suffering from it is sleeping when the primary symptoms appear and is unable to assess the severity of the situation. However, a bed companion or family member might assist the individual with sleep apnea by sharing their observations with them.

Fighting daytime drowsiness is a symptom that a person with sleep apnea is prone to experiencing. Untreated sleep apnea causes the brain and essential organs to be deprived of oxygen, lowering sleep quality and reducing restfulness. Undiagnosed sleep apnea patients may feel particularly weary during quiet moments of the day, such as driving and other low-activity hours.

Here’s everything you need to know about sleep apnea’s signs and symptoms.

What is Sleep Apnea?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition wherein your breathing is frequently interrupted while you are sleeping. These breathing gaps usually last 10 to 20 seconds and occur anywhere between 5 and 100 times each hour.

A shortage of oxygen will jolt you awake through a sleep apnea episode, generally so quickly that you don’t remember it. However, because your natural sleep schedule has been disrupted, you are spending a lot of time in light sleep and less time in profound, restorative sleep that you need to be energetic, intellectually bright, and productive the next day.

Sleep apnea can cause various health issues, even death in difficult situations. As a result, it’s critical to take it seriously. If you or your partner suspects sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your doctor immediately.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

Types Of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and complicated sleep apnea syndrome are the three main kinds of sleep apnea:

  • The most frequent type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when a person’s throat muscles relax, narrowing the airway. This might cause the individual to snore loudly or cease breathing briefly
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to connect with the lungs to keep breathing. As a result, the individual gets up gasping and choking
  • Obstructive and central sleep apnea are combined in complex sleep apnea syndrome. As the throat relaxes, the individual would not breathe adequately, creating several disruptions during the night

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

For individuals with sleep apnea, sleeping will be anything but relaxing; it poses major health hazards to over 22 million Americans. Unfortunately, according to physicians, that’s the number of individuals with sleep apnea, and several of them could still be undetected.

Despite a full night’s sleep, people with this condition feel exhausted.

Men are significantly more prone than women to develop sleep apnea. However, the frequency rises in women after menopause as hormonal changes impair muscle strength, leaving the airway more susceptible to collapse in sleep.

Undiagnosed sleep apnea has even been related to high hypertension, stroke, cognitive issues, and diabetes and interrupting your sleep.

If you or a loved one might have been affected by sleep apnea, be aware of the following signs and symptoms.

1. Snoring

Snoring

The thunderous snoring that comes with sleep apnea is perhaps the most noticeable symptom. Snoring is the sound of soft tissue vibrating from airflows, such as the throat, nasal passages, and soft palate. 

Almost everyone occasionally snores while sleeping, but if your snoring becomes extremely loud or laborious, it may be a nuisance to your bedmate. It eventually points to a symptom that something is wrong with your sleep. 

Snoring is caused by various factors, including obesity, alcohol intake, and sleeping in an uncomfortable posture.

2. Exhaustion and Grumpiness

Exhaustion and Grumpiness

Because sleep apnea prevents you from getting enough rest, you’ll feel even worse throughout the day. In addition, lack of sleep can result in increased levels of weariness and aggravation, two symptoms that frequently occur together.

We need to look at the sleep cycle and one little part of the brain to better explain irritability in sleep apnea. The rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep is when the brain analyses, retains, and helps to resolve memories from the previous day. When REM sleep is disrupted, the brain cannot “finish its paperwork” from the previous day, so this unaddressed pressure can unconsciously raise stress.

By altering the functioning of the amygdala, the portion of the brain that governs emotional responses like fear and anger, sleep apnea raises irritation even more. 

As the work of the prefrontal cortex is to govern the amygdala; however, it becomes less efficient when the brain cannot accomplish its function during REM sleep. Persons with REM sleep, therefore, are more nervous, reckless, and aggressive when they are awake. 

Living life having elevated impulsivity and fury has obvious negative consequences.

High degrees of weariness can also be caused by sleep disruption. As a result of frequent interruptions, valuable deep sleep is deprived, and a lack of decent REM sleep can leave you feeling weary, easily distracted, sad, and inattentive. In addition, pain and discomfort are typical since the body cannot adequately heal itself throughout the night.

3. Gasping for Air

Gasping for Air

Gasping, choking, or snorting are frequent responses to pauses in breathing in sleep apnea. When the oxygen level in your blood drops between breathing pauses, your brain is signaled to wake up and take a breath. Trying to take a breath quickly can result in you spluttering, snorting, or choking for air.

You may have frantic gasps for air all through the night in extreme situations. If your spouse detects you are having trouble breathing while sleeping, you should consult a doctor.

4. Hypertension

Hypertension

When your oxygen levels fall during the night with sleep apnea, your blood pressure will soar. During sleep, your body needs to work extra hard to eliminate the impediment. It accomplishes this by secreting norepinephrine (adrenaline). 

High blood pressure increases the chance of a heart attack or a stroke, cardiac arrest, an aneurysm, restricted blood vessels in the eyes, or compromised capillaries in the kidneys.

You can avoid these problems by treating your increased blood pressure and sleep apnea.

5. Dry Mouth and Headache

Dry Mouth and Headache

A headache and a dry mouth are symptoms of sleep apnea. Many patients with sleep apnea get headaches as a consequence of the lack of oxygen in sleep.

Snoring can dry up your mouth and cause a sore throat. If you wake up with a headache or neck pain, you may have sleep apnea.

6. Obesity

Obesity

Obesity increases your chances of developing sleep apnea. Fatty tissue forms all around the throat and presses against the windpipe when sleeping, restricting airflow. You may use your neck measurement to see whether you’re at risk for sleep apnea. If it is greater than 16 inches, you should seek medical advice and focus on reducing weight.

Furthermore, sleep apnea can cause weight gain. Sleep deprivation raises those hormones that make you hungry while decreasing the chemicals that make you feel full. Treatment for sleep apnea aids weight loss, and weight loss can lower the extent of sleep apnea.

7. Insomnia or Hypersomnia

Insomnia or Hypersomnia

Sleep apnea disrupts your overall circadian pattern, making you tired at night and restless throughout the day. The word “insomnia” is well-known, whereas hypersomnia, which occurs during the day, is not known by many people. It differs from universal exhaustion because it is the body’s plea for the sleep it didn’t receive the night before. 

Hypersomnia can cause daytime naps, interrupting one’s sleep routine and one’s workday. Furthermore, daytime naps are rarely long enough to restore sleep apnea’s vicious cycle of tiredness and sleep deprivation.

Though less common than sleep apnea, insomnia is no less dangerous. Apneic episodes can startle a person awake, causing them to struggle to fall asleep. Enough of these interruptions may cause the patient to delay going to bed or have difficulty falling asleep. 

As the hours pass and the next day comes, waking up well-rested and clear-headed decreases dramatically. If you or a loved one is experiencing difficulty sleeping – obstructive sleep apnea may be the cause.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

To treat obstructive sleep apnea, many patients utilize a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. A CPAP machine is a mask that covers your nose and mouth while you sleep. A flow of air is forced into your airways. This makes it easier for you to breathe.

All of our muscles, including those that keep our mouth forward, relax as we fall asleep. Some persons with obstructive sleep apnea partly seal their airway when the jaw slides backward during sleep. These individuals may gain from a nighttime mouthpiece that pushes the jaw forward.

Several people who suffer from sleep apnea are obese. Fat all across your airway can narrow it and make it easier to collapse. Therefore, losing weight may have a significant impact.

Obstructive sleep apnea affects some people solely while they sleep on their backs. If that’s the case, consider sleeping on a wedge cushion or wearing a filled fanny pack around your waistline to prevent turning onto your back.

If alternative treatments have failed, surgery may be recommended for some patients. The most typical procedure is to remove extra tissue from the back of the throat and shorten the soft tissue that dangles (the uvula).

A hypoglossal nerve stimulator, an implanted pacemaker-like device, is a recent therapy option. When you breathe in, it causes the tongue to tighten, preventing the tongue from obstructing the airway. However, it’s quite costly, and insurance may or may not cover it.

Addressing any underlying cardiovascular or neurological issues may be enough to cure central sleep apnea. In addition, CPAP therapy may also be beneficial.

Wrapping Up

Sleep apnea is a term used to describe a variety of conditions caused by pauses in breathing while sleeping. There are several factors that might cause your breathing to become blocked. However, it is critical to discuss the hazards associated with this breath pause with your healthcare physician. 

Sleep apnea can make you feel exhausted or depressed, but in the worst-case scenario, it can be fatal. If you have sleep apnea, see your healthcare provider about the ideal treatment options.

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