Do You Have Sleep Apnea?
There are three main types of sleep apnea identified as follows:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common form and happens when your throat muscles are relaxed;
- Central Sleep Apnea: Your brain is not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing;
There may be some similarities in the signs and symptoms in the different types of sleep apnea. When your body is not functioning in a healthy manner, more than likely something is not working well; it means something is wrong and you should pay some attention to your health – check it out with your doctor.
It is always advisable to consult with your family doctor if/ when you experience any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Your breath stops and starts
- Shortness of breath on waking up abruptly
- You have a headache
- You are unable to sleep
- Your mouth is dry and you have a sore throat as you wake up
- You are always sleepy during the day
- You feel irritable
- Your attention span is limited.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – What is the Cause?
When you sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (the uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in and you cannot get adequate breath in. When you are unable to breathe properly, the level of oxygen in your blood might be lowered.
As your brain senses this inability to breathe it briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. Usually this happens so fast that you don’t even remember anything.
During your sleep you sound like you are snorting, choking or gasping and, this pattern can repeat itself all night long, five to 30 times or more each hour.
With these kinds of disruptions your ability to maximize the required deep, restful sleep is definitely impaired. You will no doubt feel sleepy during the day as you did not get to sleep deeply and soundly during the night.
However, people with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, they might think they slept soundly all night when the opposite is true.
Central Sleep Apnea – What is the Cause?
Central sleep apnea is a less common form of sleep apnea. When your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles it is called Central Sleep Apnea. This means you make no effort to breathe for a short period of time. You may wake up with shortness of breath; have a difficult time getting to sleep or staying asleep.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk of sleep apnea:
Obstructive sleep apnea
- Excess weight.People who are obese have four times the risk of sleep apnea that people who are a normal weight people do. Fat deposits around your upper airway may obstruct your breathing. But not everyone who has sleep apnea is overweight.
- Neck circumference.People with thicker necks may have narrower airways. For men, the risk increases if neck circumference is 17 inches (43 centimeters) and larger. In women, the risk increases if neck circumference is 15 inches (38 centimeters) or more.
- A narrowed airway.You may have inherited a naturally narrow throat. Or, tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged and block the airway, particularly in children with sleep apnea.
- Being male.Men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
- Being older.Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
- Family history.If you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers.These substances relax the muscles in your throat.
- Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked. Smoking may increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway. This risk likely drops after you quit smoking.
- Nasal congestion.If you have difficulty breathing through your nose — whether it’s from an anatomical problem or allergies — you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
· Central sleep apnea
- Being older.Middle-aged and older people have a higher risk of central sleep apnea.
- Heart disorders.People with congestive heart failure are more at risk of central sleep apnea.
- Using narcotic pain medications.Opioid medications, especially long-acting ones such as methadone, increase the risk of central sleep apnea.
- People who’ve had a stroke are more at risk of central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition. Complications may include:
- Daytime fatigue.The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability.
- You may have difficulty concentrating and find yourself falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents.
- You may also feel quick tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea may do poorly in school or have behaviour problems.
- High blood pressure or heart problems.Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) is greater than if you don’t.
- Obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of recurrent heart attack, and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of stroke. If there’s underlying heart disease, these multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes.People with sleep apnea are more likely to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared with people without the sleep disorder.
- Metabolic syndrome.This disorder is a collection of other risk factors linked to a higher risk of heart disease. The conditions that make up metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar and an increased waist circumference.
- Complications with medications and surgery.Obstructive sleep apnea is also a concern with certain medications and general anaesthesia. People with sleep apnea may be more likely to experience complications following major surgery because they’re prone to breathing problems, especially when sedated and lying on their backs. Before you have surgery, tell your doctor that you have sleep apnea and how it’s treated.
- Liver problems.People with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring. This is a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Sleep-deprived partners.Loud snoring can keep those around you from getting good rest and eventually disrupt your relationships. It’s not uncommon for a partner to go to another room, or even on another floor of the house, to be able to sleep. Many bed partners of people who snore may be sleep-deprived as well.o
The risk factors associated with Sleep Apnea shared as posted on the Mayo Clinic Website:
Your health should be considered your first priority. During Health Awareness Week take the time to love yourself first and pay attention to your own health. Only you are responsible for your health; make yourself your No. 1 priority.
Good sleep habits will impact your overall health in a positive way. When you’re sick you need to get enough sleep so your body can heal and regain your strength. The same is true on a regular basis. Getting enough sleep is of paramount importance in maintaining your health.
Sleep affects how you look, how you feel and how you produce/perform on a daily basis.
Treat your body with love and kindness. You can only be effective in helping others when you take care of yourself, first.