What is Sleep Apnea?
Have you ever been told that you sometimes stop breathing while asleep, or that your snoring is interrupted by pauses, gasps, and snorting noises? Do you wake up in the morning feeling tired, groggy, and as if you have not slept at all? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, it may be possible that you suffer obstructive sleep apnea, a disorder in which a person stops breathing multiple times throughout the night. As humans, sleep is necessary to rejuvenate our bodies and restore its vital functions.
The ongoing release of stress hormones and repeated instantaneous awakenings throughout the night deprive sleep apnea suffers of the benefits of restorative rest. This condition can be tiresome for your bed partner,and could also be detrimental to your health. There are ways to treat your snoring or sleep apnea that include changing aspects of your lifestyle, using a CPAP machine, surgery, or using an oral appliance.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The most common indicator that a person may be suffering from OSA is the multiple awakenings they experience throughout the course of the night. The patient will often wake up repeatedly gasping or choking as they try to catch their breath, and then promptly fall back asleep. People experiencing an apnea event often have no recollection of it, which is why many people never know they have sleep apnea.
Those who are diagnosed with sleep apnea may also experience night sweats, restless sleep, heartburn or other stomach issues, dry mouth or sore throat, and morning headaches. Other symptoms that may be attributed to other causes include: difficulty waking up, increased forgetfulness, decreased concentration, and becoming irritable, moody, or depressed.
Health Problems and Complications
About sixty percent of people struggling with sleep apnea are overweight or obese. The effects of mild obstructive sleep apnea have the potential to be reversed if a patient loses enough weight, but that can be difficult if one is constantly tired or fatigued by sleep apnea. While being overweight can lead to sleep apnea, having sleep apnea can also lead to becoming overweight.
If left untreated, sleep apnea could lead to a range of diseases, such as: cardiovascular disease, stroke, nighttime urination, acid reflux, depression, memory loss, high blood pressure, an increased risk for different cancers, increased weight gain, thyroid problems, and type two diabetes. Sleep apnea can typically be diagnosed when the patient is monitored overnight in a designated sleep lab. Fortunately, now that technology is quickly progressing, patients have the ability to take the sleep test at home with the appropriate monitoring equipment.