breathing pause or apnea can last anywhere from ten to thirty seconds and will happen several times in a night.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most prevalent kind of sleep apnea; it happens when the soft tissues near the back of the throat collapse and restrict the upper airway during sleep. A markedly narrow airway, a large tongue, relaxed throat muscles, or excess fatty tissue can all limit and clog the passage of air. Less common types of sleep apnea include mixed apnea and central apnea.
Immediate relatives or relationship partners often notice sleep apnea in an individual first. If someone has any of the following symptoms, they should seek medical attention:
- Dozing off throughout the day
- General daytime tiredness
- Lack of concentration
- Loud snoring with pauses of silence during sleep
- Memory loss
- Reduced sex drive
- Choking or gasping when asleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Irritability and/or mood swings
Note: Someone can snore frequently without having a sleep apnea condition.
If left untreated, the oxygen deprivation of sleep apnea can manifest into the following health issues:
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Heart attack
- Reduced sexual capabilities
- Vehicular collisions or accidents
- Injuries at the workplace
Viable treatments will differ based on if you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. To begin, you will want to check with a doctor or specialist, so they can diagnose you and test for sleep apnea. The tests may occur at a facility such as a hospital or even at your own home.
Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the most popular treatment method. For this treatment, you wear a mask that assists in keeping the throat’s airway open. This prevents snoring, breathing pauses, and helps the patient to get a more refreshing sleep. Surgery and oral appliance therapy offer alternative treatment methods that are less common.
There are also a variety of lifestyle changes that can help reduce your symptoms and the risks associated with sleep apnea. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight can be very beneficial and will also reduce your risk of heart disease. This applies to regular exercise as well, which will help with weight loss and strengthen the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
Quitting smoking can also be advantageous since smoking can worsen sleep apnea through throat irritation and coughing. Not smoking also means more energy for exercise so that you can develop a healthier body. Reducing alcohol intake and avoiding sleeping pills is also beneficial since both substances act as sedatives and can further relax the tissue that inhibits breathing at night. The brain will also have more difficulty waking you up, and this leads to longer, more dangerous breathing pauses.
Sleeping on your side as opposed to sleeping on your back is often better also because gravity won’t be pulling soft tissues down into your throat as much. Propping yourself with a pillow can work well. Also remember to keep a consistent sleep schedule since tiredness will worsen your symptoms.