Do you feel tired all day long even after having more than eight hours of sleep the night before? Are you blaming your diet, constantly busy schedule, or perhaps think that it is because of a certain illness? Have you ever thought that it might be because of something that is more straightforward? If you have been sleeping for a good number of hours every night but still do not feel rested, you might be exhibiting signs of sleep apnea, without even knowing it. Let us now discuss the basics of sleep apnea, its signs and symptoms, diagnosis, and available treatment.
A Quick Look
Sleep apnea is a pretty common sleep disorder that could lead to potentially serious health issues if not treated according to https://www.mycpap.com.au and this involves an episode wherein the patient’s breathing is interrupted while he or she is asleep. In most cases, the affected individual is not aware of these short breathing pauses, which could happen as many as 100 times while they are sleeping. These wake and sleep patterns jolt you out of your natural sleep rhythm. When you wake up, you remember nothing about the brief breathing interruptions. All you know is that you feel restless, exhausted, mentally drained, and sleepy during the day.
Sleep apnea is classified into three different categories.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the first one on the list. It is the most common type of sleep apnea, which takes place when the patient’s airway is blocked, triggering temporary cessation in respiration and loud snoring.
Central sleep apnea is the second type. Compared to OSA, patients with central sleep apnea usually do not snore. In this case, the patient’s brain is unable to send signals responsible for the regulation of the muscles responsible for respiration.
Mixed sleep apnea is the third type of sleep apnea. This condition possesses the characteristics of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Since all the symptoms of this condition, regardless of which type it is, happens while you are asleep, you may only find out that you may have this condition if your roommate or bed partner either tells you about these episodes or complains about your loud snoring. At first, you might feel embarrassed and you may dismiss snoring as something that is normal. But please do seek out the help of a medical professional because sleep apnea can take a serious toll on your physical and mental health.
Keep in mind that being sleep deprived for a long time can result in daytime sleepiness, poor concentration, slow reflexes, and higher risks of driving or work-related accidents. It can also lead to mood swings, depression, irritability, as well as other more serious health issues like weight gain, diabetes, liver problems, liver disease, and heart disease. You don’t have to suffer any of these health complications. Consult your doctor and seek out the appropriate self-help strategies and right professional treatment to control the symptoms of sleep apnea, enjoy a restful sleep, and feel refreshed and energetic throughout the day.
Signs and Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, it is not usually obvious that you have sleep apnea and in most cases, this condition can often go undiagnosed. By learning the subtle signs and symptoms, you will be able to seek early treatment and avoid health complications.
Patients who have sleep apnea usually have an urgent need to pee, which sometimes leads to accidents while going to the bathroom. According to experts, patients afflicted with this condition use a great deal of their diaphragm and abdominal muscles when subconsciously trying to open their airway and restart breathing. This motion places a lot of pressure on the abdominal muscles and the bladder. Patients sense this pressure and interpret it as the urge to urinate. There are even some cases when the patient urinates while still in bed and does not have the ability to stop it.
Sleep apnea patients often complain of morning headaches. This is due to low oxygen levels while asleep since airflow to the lungs is restricted. Apart from this, the great deal of effort used to open the airway can put a lot of pressure on the neck muscles, which can also lead to headaches. Moreover, patients feel tired since they are not getting a full restful sleep.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness
Sleep apnea patients also suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. They usually find it hard to stay awake during the day and may even fall asleep when they are not doing anything. Sleep specialists said that restless nights are the culprit behind daytime sleepiness and fatigue. If you feel this way all the time and no amount of coffee could seem to keep you awake, then you should get in touch with a medical professional.
Snoring/Gasping Choking Sounds
Two of the most common warning signs that you might have sleep apnea is snoring as well as making gasping or choking sounds while asleep. Some people say that snoring is a sign that a person is in deep sleep. That may be true in some cases but snoring is no longer normal if it is coupled with pauses in breathing and gasping sounds at night. These already point to a possibility that the person is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.
Lack Of Concentration
Another indication that you might have sleep apnea is if you constantly exhibit poor memory and concentration during the day, whether at work or in school. Since you will be waking up multiple times at night, you will have poor quality sleep, thus, making you feel restless during the day. The chronic loss of oxygen due to sleep apnea also negatively affects the brain structure, which in turn affects your mood and memory.
Several studies claimed that sleep apnea could cause mood disorders like depression. One specific research found that 46% of patients diagnosed with OSA exhibit depressive symptoms while 54% experienced anxiety.
Sleep apnea patients may also notice weight gain despite diet and exercise since this sleep condition tends to interfere with metabolism. Sleep apnea has been linked with impairing the body’s capability to process sugar, which could also increase your risk of having type 2 diabetes.
Low Sex Drive
You may also have sleep apnea if you notice that you have low sex drive but have no idea why. Although this claim still needs more scientific support, some studies associated sexual dysfunction with sleep apnea. It is a sign that may be exhibited by both men and women who have sleep apnea. Men may present instances of erectile dysfunction while women may show a decrease in sexual orgasm, desire, and satisfaction.
Sleep apnea patients may also experience night sweats. This is due to the body’s reaction to the pauses in breathing. Experts encourage people who notice this sign to consult a medical expert immediately.
There are five treatment options for sleep apnea patients.
CPAP machines or also known as continuous positive airflow pressure machine is the most popular treatment option for people diagnosed with obstructed sleep apnea. The equipment comes with a CPAP mask that is placed over the nose and/or mouth and provides a steady flow of air to keep the airways open while the user is asleep. If you’ve tried CPAP machines before but stopped using it because it felt uncomfortable to use, you owe it to yourself to give it another try. This machine is extremely effective and you can always ask for tips from your sleep specialist on how to make this treatment option more comfortable. Sleep apnea machines are available in different brands like Resmed, Fisher, and Paykel, as well as Philips Respironics.
Other types of breathing devices may be recommended for your sleep apnea treatment. Your sleep specialist may ask you to use the expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP), the Bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) machines, or the adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV).
Dental devices, which work much like a mouthguard, is another treatment option for those who are afflicted with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Two of the most common devices are the tongue retaining device and the mandibular repositioning device. Both of them aims to keep your respiratory tract open by lowering your jaw or thrusting your tongue forward when you sleep.
Sleep apnea implants are the most recent treatment option for this kind of sleeping disorder. A pacemaker system is inserted into your body and it will encourage your muscles to keep your upper respiratory tract open and promote normal breathing while you are asleep. It is a good option for people who have moderate to severe OSA or obstructive sleep apnea.
Surgery is the final resort for sleep apnea patients who have tried all the other treatment options with no success. There are certain surgical procedures that can increase the size of the patient’s airways and lessen the episodes of breathing pauses. The operation may involve the removal of the excess tissue inside the nose or back of the throat, tonsils, and adenoids. The jaw may be reconstructed to enlarge the upper respiratory tract. The surgical procedure may also involve placing plastic rods in the soft palate of the patient. Before you opt for a surgical procedure to treat your sleep apnea, you have to know the complications. Talk to a professional so he or she can recommend the best method of treatment for you.