When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops while you’re asleep. The Greek term for “breathless” is the root of the English word “apnea.” Because you stop breathing while you’re asleep, sleep apnea develops. The blocking of your airway (obstructive sleep apnea) or improper breathing regulation by your brain is the two causes of this (central apnea).
The consequent shortage of oxygen triggers a survival reaction that briefly awakens you so that you can start breathing again. Your sleep pattern is disturbed even though that instinct keeps you alive. Because of this, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep and it may also have other negative effects, such as straining your heart, which may be fatal.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Here are the symptoms of Sleep Apnea:
- Feeling tired or even exhausted when waking up Sleep apnea patients may feel exhausted even after a full night of sleep.
- Daytime sleepiness more extreme instances may make you drowsy when working, driving, or engaging in other tasks.
- Snoring Although it doesn’t always happen, this is a common symptom of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can sometimes exist without any snoring at all.
- Mood changes Anxiety and depression are frequent signs of sleep apnea.
- Disruptions in brain function These could include problems with memory, concentration, or other brain-related problems.
- Waking up repeatedly in the middle of the night due to the fact that most individuals have trouble remembering when or why they wake up, this symptom may be more difficult to detect. People who do this frequently recall waking up for a different cause, such as indigestion or the need to use the restroom.
- Pauses in breathing while asleep that others witness While you are sleeping, a spouse, partner, or other loved one can notice these signs.
- Unusual breathing patterns The characteristic breathing pattern known as Cheyne-Stokes breathing (CSB) can be a symptom of central sleep apnea. Breathing is quick during CSB and becomes shallower until becoming completely nonexistent. They will stop breathing for a few seconds before beginning again and repeating the process.
- Night sweats and feeling restless at night.
- Sexual dysfunction.
- waking up with a sense of being out of breath or choking.
- headaches, particularly upon awakening.
What causes sleep apnea?
There are known causes of sleep apnea, and there is evidence that it may run in families. Overall, there are three basic types of sleep apnea, each of which occurs for a variety of reasons. They include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
- Central sleep apnea (CSA).
- Mixed/complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
The most typical version is this. When your neck and head muscles relax while you’re sleeping, the surrounding tissue presses on your windpipe, resulting in obstructed sleep apnea. That prevents air from passing through it.
Central sleep apnea
This type of sleep apnea is brought on by a cognitive issue. In normal conditions, your brain controls your breathing constantly, even when you’re sleeping. When your brain fails to deliver instructions to keep breathing-related muscles active during sleep, central sleep apnea results.
Central sleep apnea can happen for many reasons, including:
- Heart failure.
- Low blood oxygen levels (hypoxia) because of high altitude.
- Injury to the nervous system, particularly in the areas of the spinal cord or brainstem that control respiration.
- Using CPAP to treat obstructive sleep apnea initially (this typically goes away with consistent CPAP use).
- Diseases of the nervous system like Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Mixed/complex sleep apnea
A mixed or complicated form of sleep apnea is also present. Both core events and obstructive events are present in this type.
How common is sleep apnea?
Although frequent, sleep apnea is rare. About 5% to 10% of individuals globally, according to experts, are impacted.
When to see a doctor in Sleep Apnea
Loud snoring may be a sign of serious problems, but not everyone has sleep apnea snores. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of sleep apnea. Ask your practitioner about any sleep problem that leaves you fatigued, sleepy, and irritable.
Anyone, including children, can be affected by sleep apnea. However, a few things make you more vulnerable.
Obstructive sleep apnea
The following factors may increase the risk of sleep apnea :
- Excess weight. OSA risk is significantly increased by obesity. Around your upper airway fat deposits may block your breathing.
- Neck circumference. It’s possible that those with larger necks have smaller airways.
- A narrowed airway. Perhaps you were born with a small neck. Adenoids or tonsils can potentially expand and obstruct the airway, especially in young infants.
- Being male. Men are two to three times more prone to sleep apnea than women. However, women who are overweight or have undergone menopause are at higher risk.
- Being older. Older persons are substantially more prone to experience sleep apnea.
- Family history. A family history of sleep apnea may make you more prone to it.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers. These medications can convert obstructive sleep apnea into more severe by loosening the muscles in your throat.
- Smoking. Obstructive sleep apnea is three times as common among smokers as in non-smokers. Smoking can make the upper airway more inflammatory as well as fluid-retained.
- Nasal congestion. You are more prone to develop obstructive sleep apnea if you have problems breathing via your nose, whether due to anatomical issues or allergies.
- Medical conditions. Among the illnesses that may raise the risk of obstructive sleep apnea include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. Risk factors may include polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal issues, a history of stroke, and persistent lung conditions including asthma.
Central sleep apnea
The risk factors for this form of sleep apnea are as under:
- Being older. The risk of central sleep apnea is increased in middle-aged and older persons.
- Being male. Men are more likely to be prone to central sleep apnea than women.
- Heart disorders. Congestive cardiac failure raises the danger.
- Using narcotic pain medicines. Opioid medications, especially those with a lengthy half-life, like methadone, raise the possibility of developing central sleep apnea.
- Stroke. The likelihood of developing central sleep apnea after a stroke rises.
Following Complications may Occur With Sleep Apnea
The medical disorder known as sleep apnea is severe. OSA complications can include:
- Daytime fatigue. Sleep apnea makes restorative sleep difficult due to frequent awakenings, which increases the likelihood of extreme daytime sleepiness, weariness, and irritability. You could find it difficult to focus and you frequently nod off when working, watching TV, or even while driving. Accidents in the workplace and in cars are more likely to occur in those with sleep apnea. You could also experience moodiness, irritability, or depression. Sleep apnea in children and teenagers may cause poor academic performance as well as behavioral issues.
- High blood pressure or heart problems. OSA causes abrupt reductions in blood oxygen levels, which raise blood pressure and tax the cardiovascular system. Your risk of hypertension, sometimes referred to as high blood pressure, is increased if you have OSA. OSA may also make you more susceptible to stroke, recurring heart attacks, and abnormal heartbeats like atrial fibrillation. Due to low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) in a person with heart disease might result in sudden death from an erratic heartbeat.
- Type 2 diabetes. You have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance if you have sleep apnea.
- Metabolic syndrome. A greater risk of heart disease is associated with this ailment, which includes high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, excessive blood sugar, and an enlarged waist circumference.
- Complications with medicines and surgery. Another issue with some medications and general anesthesia is obstructive sleep apnea. Because they are more likely to experience breathing issues when under anesthesia and resting on their backs, people with sleep apnea may be more likely to experience difficulties following major surgery. You should inform your surgeon about your sleep apnea and current treatment regimen before the procedure.
- Liver problems. People who suffer from sleep apnea are more prone to have erratic liver function test results and to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is marked by liver scarring.
- Sleep-deprived partners. Anyone sleeping close by might struggle to obtain a decent night’s sleep due to loud snoring. A spouse frequently has to move to a different room or even to a different level of the house in order to sleep.
Complications of Central Sleep Apnea may include:
- Fatigue. Sleep apnea prevents restorative sleep since it causes frequent awakenings. Severe weariness, daytime sleepiness, and irritability are frequent symptoms of central sleep apnea in patients. You could find it challenging to focus and you frequently nod off when working, watching television, or even while driving.
- Cardiovascular problems. Heart health can be negatively impacted by the sudden reductions in blood oxygen levels that happen during central sleep apnea. These recurrent periods of low blood oxygen, also known as hypoxia or hypoxemia, impair the prognosis and raise the likelihood of irregular cardiac rhythms in those with underlying heart disease.
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