What is Sleep Apnea Syndrome?
Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder where a person pauses breathing once or several times or has shallow breaths while asleep.
Pauses in breathing can be for a few seconds to even minutes. They can often happen five to thirty times or even more in an hour. Naturally, normal breathing resumes once again, and it is sometimes accompanied by a choking sound or loud snort.
The condition is usually a chronic disorder that disrupts one’s sleep. One can get out of deep sleep and move into light sleep as their breathing becomes shallow or pauses for a few minutes.
This normally leads to poor sleep which makes one tired the following day. This disorder is in fact one of the main causes of excessive sleepiness during the day.
What are the types of sleep apnea?
There are three types of this disorder. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs as result of the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxing while one is asleep, leading to snoring and blockage to the airway.
There is a less common type of the disorder called central sleep apnea. It affects the central nervous system, instead of the obstruction of an airway. It may occur when the brain, for one reason or another, fails to signal muscles that regulate breathing. People with this condition often do not snore.
A combination of the above two sleep disorders is called complex sleep apnea.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
The most obvious symptoms of the sleep disorder include the following:
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Loud snoring
- Feeling of sleepiness during daytime
One cannot easily notice they have a problem with sleeping. It is a person’s family members who can notice the symptoms first.
Other symptoms of sleep apnea
Other sleep apnea symptoms can include the following:
- Headaches in the morning
- Feeling of irritability
- Learning or memory problems
- Poor concentration in one’s job
- Personality changes, mood swings and sometimes feelings of depression
- Constant urge to urinate at night
- Dry throat when one wakes up
People who have severe sleep apnea symptoms are more likely to be involved in deadly car crashes. This sleep disorder also increases one’s risk to medical conditions like high blood pressure, heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke.
Sleep apnea treatment
Sleep apnea can be treated, even though its diagnosis might sound a little scary. In fact, one can do so many things on their own to treat their condition, especially if the condition is a mild or moderate one. One can try lifestyle changes and home remedies to alleviate symptoms of the sleep disorder.
As part of lifestyle changes, it is recommended that one lose weight. Losing weight is a very effective treatment for the disorder as it can improve the symptoms or even eliminate the problem for good.
One should also quit smoking as it is believed to worsen the sleep disorder.
Sleeping pills, sedatives, and alcohol relax throat muscles and make breathing difficult, especially during bedtime, so they should be avoided.
One should also eat light meals and avoid caffeine at least two hours before going to sleep.
One should also regularly sleep for a good number of hours every day as it helps them relax as well as get better sleep. Symptoms of the sleep disorder decrease as one gets plenty hours of sleep regularly.
Sleep apnea medical treatment
In cases of moderate or severe cases of this sleep disorder, it is important for one to consult a doctor if lifestyle changes or self-help care do not seem to work. A sleep expert can check one’s symptoms and help them in finding an effective remedy.
Sleep apnea treatments have so many options and therefore it is best that one takes time to go through the various options. Even if one treatment option fails, there are always other options that can be comfortable and effective.
The following are treatments options for complex and central sleep apnea:
One should treat the medical condition responsible for sleep apnea, for example a heart or nervous disorder
One can use supplemental oxygen as they sleep
Breathing devices, such as those used for obstructive sleep disorder, can help
The medications for the sleep disorder are normally only for treating the sleepiness, rather than the disorder itself, so one should use them together with other credible treatments for sleep apnea.