Have you ever heard someone snoring loudly while sleeping?
Loud snoring which comes with extreme fatigues is usually what’s called sleep apnea.
This is a common disorder which impacts your breathing directly,
In this post, we will discuss all that is known about sleep apnea, including:
Is it Sleep Apnea or just snoring?
If a person snores loudly, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have sleep apnea. So how can we differentiate between the two?
Well for starters, those who snore normally are still getting their good night’s sleep. The snoring doesn’t make them suffer from fatigue and tiredness in the day.
However sleep apnea disrupts a good sleep- it leads to extreme sleepiness during the day, keeping energy levels low.
Also the way you snore tells the difference- a person who is having the sensation of choking or gasping while sleeping is likely subjected to sleep apnea. This is when your breathing is continuously being interrupted- it’s stopping and starting again during the whole course of your sleep.
A person with sleep apnea disorder has a restless night.
Now, let’s talk about the different kinds of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – This is the most common kind that happens when the throat muscles intermittently relax. This affects air passage blocking the airway during sleep and causing you to snore heavily.
- Central sleep apnea (CSA) – This kind is when your regular breathing rhythm is affected. This is because your brain doesn’t tell your muscles to take in air.
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome- This is the name given to those rare cases of patients who are suffering from both – obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Who is at Risk of Sleep Apnea?
Before moving forward, here’s a quick glimpse at the risk factors for sleep apnea. It can unfortunately affect anyone of any age group including children. Other factors which increase your chances of being diagnosed with sleep apnea are:
*being a male
*overweight or facing recent weight gain
*over the age of 40
*large neck size can also cause the same-17inches for men and 16inches or more for women
*having large tonsils or a large tongue
*being subjected to a small jawbone
* family history of sleep apnea
*having a deviated septum as it causes nasal obstruction
*being subjected to allergies and sinus problems
*being subjected to Down syndrome
* recessed chin
*having a large overbite
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are a number of reasons why a person may be facing sleep apnea. Let’s look into the various factors that lead to the collapse of the airway:
How your jaw, tongue and tonsils are lined up on the back of the throat affect the air passage and directly impact the flow of air.
According to studies, almost 60percent of OSA cases, directly arise from obesity. The anatomical narrowing of the airway is because of excessive weight gain.
Consumption of sedatives
Sedative medications have the impact of relaxing throat tissues. This makes the airway obstructed, leading to sleep disruption and sleep apnea.
A key element that leads to the rise in OSA cases is if you have close relatives in the family who also suffer from OSA.
Smoking increases OSA
It has been determined through studies that those who smoke are more likely to get OSA symptoms developed as compared to those who don’t smoke at all.
Sleeping position matters
For those who sleep on their back and straight, it allows for the airway tissue to collapse causing blockages.
Having a good control and managing your nasal congestion allows for people to experience less of OSA.
Two known hormonal issues- underactive thyroid and excessive growth hormone are known to impact OSA as it causes the swelling of tissue, blocking the airway.
In certain cases, the muscles around the airway can relax and this narrows the passage. For those more prone to sleep apnea, it can affect the smooth transit of air-in and out of the lungs.
If you have excessive fat tissue, this thickens the airway and affects the airflow.
In CSA, neurological concerns cause for the breathing and air passage to be faulty. The breathing rhythm tends to malfunction and this is due to certain conditions like stroke, using pain medications, heart failure among others.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Because of interrupted sleep, the major symptom you will feel is continuous fatigue and restlessness throughout the day.
Other than that, you will have:
*loud and irregular snoring pattern
*frequent urge to urinate at night
*dry mouth and sore throat in the morning
*heavy headaches in the morning
*gasping and choking sounds in sleep
* pauses in breathing
*facing memory loss
Complications from Sleep Apnea
Despite some only suggesting it to be a snoring concern, Sleep apnea should be considered a serious medical condition. It can lead to certain complications which include:
Continuous fatigue: having repeated sessions of awakening can lead to sleep irregularities and high levels of drowsiness.
Extreme mood swings: waking up constantly while losing sleep will cause you to have mood swings which are extreme- either being quick-tempered or extremely depressed.
Accident prone: those who suffer from high levels of sleep apnea will have their work routine and daily tasks being highly impacted. They will have trouble falling asleep and might face vehicle accidents.
High blood pressure: due to suffering from steep drops of oxygen levels, your blood pressure can be impacted as it can also lead to severe hypertension.
Prone to heart attack: there can be the possibility of recurrent heart attacks as having continuous episodes of low blood oxygen leads to irregular heartbeats.
Type 2 diabetes- Since you suffer from airway blockage and have irregular sleeping patterns, this affects and increases the developing of insulin resistance in the body. Which in turn can lead to the diagnosis of type2 diabetes.
Surgery Complications: Those who recently have had any major surgery may face certain issues if they also suffer from sleep apnea. This is because certain complications can arise if you suffer from breathing problems and need to lie on your back for long periods of time. It is best to let your doctor know of your sleep apnea condition before the onset of a surgery.
Liver concerns: Having sleep apnea impacts liver functioning in the sense that there might be liver scarring involved.
Many people don’t usually talk about it but loud snoring can have harmful impact on the partner of those affected by sleep apnea. It affects a normal lifestyle and may cause friction between the couple.
Lifestyle treatments for Sleep Apnea
While for serious cases of sleep apnea, your doctor will determine the treatment plan for you. But do you know for the mild cases, you can adapt certain lifestyle changes that will make a difference?
These certain tips will help improve your sleeping routine and keep your sleep apnea in control:
Maintain a healthy weight: If you are overweight, the first thing to consider is shedding those extra pounds. This helps in controlling the breathing episodes and will reduce your blood pressure and the effect of daytime tiredness and fatigue.
Follow an exercise pattern: Working out is a great way to reduce the sleep apnea’s disturbed breathing episodes and can increase the level of energy and alertness you have in the day. Some of the best exercises you can adapt in your normal routine are yoga and aerobics.
Sleeping on the side: Remember the worst position for sleeping is on the back, as it causes the airway passage to narrow. This is because the soft tissues in the jaw and tongue drop backwards to the throat. Hence it is best if you sleep on your side and if you are not used to it and while sleeping, you roll back onto yours back, make use of body pillows to help in obstructing this issue.
Drop the use of sedatives and alcoholic beverages: These things cause for the throat muscles to relax and interfere with your breathing hence it is best to drop their usage or at the very least not to use them right before sleeping.
Head Up: A simple tactic that can serve a long way- try to keep your head elevated to six inches; it will help in securing a longer, more peaceful sleep less frequently disturbed.
Make use of nasal dilator: This helps in opening the nasal passages at night. You can also make use of saline drops or nose strips, whatever works for you best.
Avoid smoking: This nasty habit causes not just inflammation but also fluid retention. If you quit altogether, it will help in clearing your nasal passages in no time.
Avoid caffeine: Having caffeinated beverages and heavy meals right before sleeping causes you to remain uneasy and will affect the sleeping pattern drastically.
Now you know…
Loud snoring while being a nuisance, can also point towards something drastic. If you suffer from sleep apnea, a proper diagnosis is important.
Sleep apnea can lead to serious complications and concerns. Knowing the symptoms, you can now determine whether you suffer from sleep apnea or not.
Talk to your doctor about your concerns and determine ways in which you can adapt healthy lifestyle remedies to get a good night’s sleep- not just for yourself but for your partner too.