A Complete Guide on the Symptoms, Causes and Treatments of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apneaPhoto credit: Mayoclinic

Sleep is supposed to be a time where you have quality rests from your daily activities and worries, but rather you find yourself tired even after sleeping for long hours.

What might possibly be the case?

This article gives an insight into what sleep apnea is, what and how to effectively recognize symptoms and help yourself.

Sleep apnea simply can be defined as difficulty in breathing which occurs when the upper airways is blocked hindering free flow of air when you sleep.

It is quite unfortunate how many people don’t take this medical condition seriously; some feel embarrassed while others joke around with it. Snoring is one of the major sleep disturbances that occur in a lot of patients with apnea, this snoring becomes very loud when accompanied by daytime fatigue or weakness.

A lot of people with sleep apnea are not aware of these short breathing pauses which can occur severally when they sleep during the night. And the resultant effect of sleep apnea is morning fatigue or body weakness that can affect your daily productivity.

Often times health care providers find it difficult to detect and treat sleep apnea. Sleep studies which records the number of slow or stopped breathing episodes detected within an hour has helped a lot in the diagnosis of sleep apnea although this procedure can be strenuous.

Choosing a sleep apnea treatment that works can be difficult at times especially now that a lot of choices are available in the market.

Lifestyle changes and anti-snoring devices such as airsnore device and drops are some of the best treatment options available for sleep apnea. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications that are often associated with the disorder such as heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, stroke, and cognitive and behavioral disorders.

A lot of other effects of untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for low productivity in your daily activities, and poor academic performances in children and adolescents.

With the right treatments and lifestyle changes you can control the symptoms of sleep apnea, prevent complications, restore your quality sleep patterns, become energetic and improve your daily performances.


Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea namely:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common and potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes repeated breathing pauses during sleep. It occurs when the soft tissues lining your throat occasionally relax during sleep and block your airway causing you to snore very loud.

Obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with device that keeps your airway open and thrust your lower jaw forward during sleep. Airsnore combo has been specially designed to treat this disorder.

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Central sleep apnea:  it is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea. It causes intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep and occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to the muscles controlling your breathing pattern.

Conditions like heart failure and stroke may be responsible for central sleep apnea. You are at risk of central sleep apnea when you sleep at high altitude, you are a male, elderly or when you use opioids.

Treatment options include treating the underlined condition or use of oxygen support system or use medical device that can improve breathing.

Complex sleep apnea: also known as CompSAS, is a unique type of sleep disorder that has the characteristics of Central sleep apnea and manifests in patients with obstructive sleep apnea when they begin their treatment with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), but may disappear when you use CPAP continuously for 1-2 months.

Treatment options for complex sleep apnea include servo-ventilation that may resolve the condition and alleviate the symptoms.


Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Snoring loud every night
  • Intermittent Pauses in breathing
  • Choking, snorting, or gasping sensation when you wake up
  • Sore throat after sleeping
  • Lack of energy during the day no matter the number of hours you slept
  • Headaches that occur in the morning
  • Intermittent sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Decrease libido
  • Loss of memory
  • Mood swings


Causes of Sleep Apnea

  • Obesity or overweight individuals have a lot of fats lining their neck region which can block their upper airways.
  • Large tonsils and a small jaw narrow the upper airways which can affect the normal breathing pattern.
  • Family history of sleep apnea: people with family history of sleep apnea have a higher tendency of developing the condition later on in life.
  • Hypothyroidism is a medical condition where the levels of your thyroid hormones are low. Low thyroid hormones in the body affects the part of brain (medulla) responsible for regulating breathing and the nerves and muscles used to breathe.
  • Acromegaly: is a condition where the pituitary gland produces high levels of growth hormone. It causes larger facial bones, throat swelling and larger tongues which can affect the upper airways which can lead to sleep apnea.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is usually linked with obesity which is a major cause of sleep apnea.
  • Stroke,
  • Heart or kidney failure: Advanced stage of heart or kidney failures is associated with fluid build up in the neck region which can block upper airways.


Risk factors

  • Age: it affects all age groups but the chances increase with age. The older you are the more chances of developing sleep apnea because more fats are found to be deposited in the neck and tongues of elderly people. These fatty deposits will block the upper airways and cause sleep apnea.
  • Obesity is one of the major causes of sleep apnea or a risk factor of sleep apnea.
  • Alcoholism causes relaxation of the facial and throat muscles which obstructs the airways.
  • Smoking causes swelling of the upper airways which may block upper airways.
  • Family history: Studies have shown that sleep apnea can be inherited.
  • Race: Blacks are more at risk than whites


Diagnosis of Sleep apnea

Sleep apnea test or polysomnogram is the common test that may be recommended by your physician. It can be done at home or in special centers designed for treating sleep disorders.

This test transmits and records breathing pauses electronically while you sleep. If sleep apnea is detected from the analysis result of a qualified sleep specialist, your specialist may ask you to conduct more sleep testing to decide your best sleep treatment option.


Treatment of sleep apnea

Choosing a sleep apnea treatment option that works for you may be difficult at times especially with the so many choices available in the market.

Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you need a rapid treatment to prevent the complications that come with untreated sleep apnea.

The very first criterion for choosing the right and best sleep apnea treatment is safety. Whatever the product or procedure maybe it should not pose any threat to your overall health and should be easy to use.

Treatment options include both lifestyle modifications and use of medical devices.

Lifestyle changes include:

  • Weight loss,
  • Avoid alcohol,
  • Stop smoking as it may cause swelling of the upper airway and worsen snoring and sleep apnea,
  • Stop taking sleeping medications or sedatives,
  • Regular workouts,
  • Develop and maintain a steady sleep schedule,
  • Avoid taking caffeinated drinks few hours before sleeping,
  • Change the manner in which you sleep to help you breathe properly and effectively, sleep sideways.

All these lifestyle changes when properly adhered to will help you improve your overall health.

Of the best and common medical devices available for sleep apnea is anti-snoring device. Anti-snoring device such as Airsnore combo may help you have better quality sleep, stop your snoring and you will wake up refreshed and mentally stable. One major drawback for this device is that it doesn’t serve as a cure for sleep apnea when used alone.

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