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.
* 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
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