What is Sleep Apnea? – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Written by - Reviewed by Consumer Health Digest Team

Published: Oct 1, 2013 | Last Updated: Sep 7, 2018

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea (pronounced AP-ne-ah) is when breathing pauses while sleeping. The duration time can range from a second or two to 90 seconds or more. Although you may not totally wake up, your sleep is severely compromised, and you wake up feeling unrested and grumpy.

When breathing becomes shallow or pauses during sleep -your REM sleep is disrupted, and you spend most of the night in a light (non-effective) state of sleep.

The danger is when this sleep disorder is allowed to continue without being properly diagnosed and treated. A routine physical exam will not reveal sleep apnea, nor will a blood test. Since this only happens when we sleep, it needs to be detected by a bed mate (or if you video record yourself sleeping).

What Are The types of Sleep Apnea?

What Are The Types Of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is when a person’s airway collapses while sleeping. Any air that does go through is associated with loud snoring. Although it is a common type of sleep apnea, being overweight can increase your risk.

Central sleep apnea is not as common, but just as serious. The problem here is that the brain is not sending signs to notify the “breathing headquarters” to activate. The main difference between central and obstructive sleep apnea is the fact that central sleep apnea usually doesn’t involve snoring, because there isn’t a blockage of the airways.

Complex sleep apnea is a combination of both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

What Are The Sign and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Sign And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

Some of the major symptoms of sleep apnea include: chronic (and loud) snoring; gasping for breath during sleep; and no matter how much time you spend in bed, you will still be sleepy during the day.

Other signs that you may have sleep apnea may include:

  • Waking up with headaches.
  • Having a sore throat or dry mouth most mornings.
  • Frequently getting up during the night to urinate.
  • Experiencing a very restless sleep.
  • Feeling irritable and/or depressed.

What Are the Differences Between Snoring and Sleep Apnea?

How to tell if you have sleep apnea? Snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, but it doesn’t necessarily point in that direction all the time. It is possible that a person who snores can also receive a good night’s sleep (although that may not be true of their bed mate). The difference is apparent in how you feel upon waking. Sleep apnea interferes with your sleep pattern, and usually prevents you from getting a good night’s sleep, which is important to rejuvenating and repairing all body functions. Sleep apnea causes you to wake up feeling extremely tired and sleepy all day long. Regular snoring can also be reduced by some available OTC (over-the-counter) treatments. Give one a try, your bed partner will thank you for it.

If you are still unsure if you have sleep apnea, try keeping a diary that includes how many hours you are in bed; if and when you wake up during the night, and how you feel in the morning (energized and refreshed or sleepy and sluggish). Also recording yourself as you sleep will provide deep insight as to what is going on while you try to sleep.

What Is the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Man’s Libido?

It has been studied, researched and documented that more than 50% of male test subjects that suffer with severe sleep apnea, also have very low testosterone levels, and this is a direct link to a man’s sex drive.

What are the Causes and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea has no prejudice – it can affect anyone, but there are some factors that may put people at a higher risk. For example, a person may be more prone to obstructive sleep apnea if they are male, over 65, overweight and a smoker.

Other factors associated with breathing blockage could include: a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils, thick neck and/or a receding chin.

As with obstructive sleep apnea, patients with central sleep apnea are at a higher risk in men over the age of 65. Not always, but central sleep apnea is usually associated with other serious medical conditions.

What are Medical Professionals Saying?

Medical Professionals Saying

Sleep apnea is a complex disorder that is grossly misunderstood, the medical community is continuing to conduct research and controlled testing.

What are the Available Treatments of Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a treatable disorder, and for mild cases, self-help treatments can usually remedy the problem. Modifying habits can have a dramatic positive impact. Such as:

  • Losing weight.
  • Smoking cessation.
  • Alcohol reduction or elimination.
  • Keeping regular sleep hours.
  • Avoid heavy meals and/or caffeine within 2 hours of going to sleep.

Some other bedtime tips may help with minimizing the symptoms of mild sleep apnea.

While in bed, sleep on your side. Just by sleeping on your back can cause a blockage of airways. If you have been a “back sleeper” most of your life, it may not be easy to change sleeping positions. Try wedging a pillow case (stuffed with a pillow and several tennis balls) behind you to prevent you from rolling on to your back.

Breathing strips, nasal sprays or a dilator will open you nasal passages, making it easier for you to breath.

Practicing some throat exercises may also be a helpful treatment of mild sleep apnea.

There are many sleep aid supplements available on the market such as Herbal Formula Deep Sleep which might also give you relief from this problem.

What Are the Medical Treatments Options for Sleep Apnea?

Treatment for severe sleep apnea will require the guidance of a medical professional.

Central and Complex sleep apnea medical treatment options include:

  • Treating any underlying medical disorder.
  • Using oxygen supplementation while you sleep.
  • Breathing devices to help open up airways.

Examine Provigil Review: Dost it really induces sleep

Final Word

Sleep apnea is very treatable, so don’t give up in finding ways to get a good night’s sleep. Technology is being upgraded all the time.

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