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Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The risks of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure and heart disease. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea causes daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal relationship problems. The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate or severe.


Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Lately there is more and more information out there dealing with sleep apnea. Youíve probably heard about it on the news, from a friend, or maybe from your doctor. You may be concerned, or maybe just curious; whatever the reason, here is some information about sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing in their sleep. While most people with apnea stop breathing for about 10 seconds, some can go a full minute without taking a breath. The person then wakes up, and starts breathing again; often they donít even know this has happened. This can occur up to 100 times a night. Sleep apnea can be fatal for someone who doesnít wake up, but can also be harmful due to severe sleep deprivation.

While one is much more prevalent, there are actually two types of sleep apnea. The first, and much more common type, is obstructive sleep apnea. In this case, breathing stops because the airway is obstructed, usually by the throat or the back of the mouth. This is what is normally discussed when you speak of sleep apnea. The other type of apnea is central sleep apnea. This is actually a nervous disorder when there is a problem with the signal from your brain to your body telling it to breathe. This type is much more serious and is generally caused by a brain stem or nervous system injury or disease.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
There are actually two types of symptoms that can occur from sleep apnea. The first are those from the actual condition. Those include:

* Waking up often in the middle of the night, usually gasping for air.
* Loud snoring
* Stopping breathing during the night. This is reported from a partner or by using a tape recorder.
* Waking up during the night in a sweat.
* Dry mouth, sore throat, or headaches after sleeping.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea are actually caused by sleep deprivation. Even if you are sleeping enough every night, you may still be deprived of certain types of sleep. These symptoms include:

* Feeling very tired after a full nightís sleep
* Falling asleep during the day
* Memory loss
* Short attention span
* Mood swings, including depression
* Poor judgment and problem solving skills
* Weight gain

If you think you may have sleep apnea, there are certain causes and risk factors that you should be aware of. While many risk factors canít be controlled, like age, throat structure or being male, there are some that can be. Making lifestyle changes may reduce your apnea without medical treatment. These factors include:

* Being overweight, particularly in the neck region
* Irregular sleeping patterns, particularly regular changes like those caused by shift work.
* Smoking
* Alcohol and sleep aids. These relax the throat muscles making them more likely to obstruct your airway.
* Allergies or other problems that cause nasal blockage.

If your symptoms are severe, or are not improved by fixing the problems above; see a doctor. They can refer you to a sleep specialist who will give you specific treatment for your problem. With time, you should be able to fix your apnea and enjoy healthy, restful nightís sleep.

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