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Snoring is often dismissed as a bad habit that has few implications for your health. However, this is not always the case. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, then you may have a condition known as sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. If you suffer from the condition, then your breathing starts and stops repeatedly during sleep, and this will manifest in the form of loud snoring. Furthermore, the condition causes a person’s breathing to stop and start several times during sleep (hundreds of times in some cases), and the brain and other parts of the body may not get enough oxygen. This is part of the reason the person feels tired the next day, even after having a long night’s sleep.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be categorized into two types, namely obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. When someone has both types, it is referred to as complex sleep apnea syndrome or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea. There are different factors that cause different types of the condition. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway when the muscles in the back of the throat relax. Central sleep apnea is caused by the failure of the brain to transmit signals to your breathing muscles.
Different factors contribute to the condition, including:
- Excess weight
- Being male
- Thicker neck
- A narrowed airway
- Family history
- Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers
- Lax muscles and other tissue in the mouth and throat
- Nasal congestion
- Heart or kidney problems
- Down syndrome
- Using narcotic pain killers
- Underlying neurological problem
- Cold and allergies
Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea presents several symptoms. Most times, the symptoms of the different types overlap, making it difficult to determine the particular one you suffer. Here are the major symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Episodes of cessation of breathing during sleep (often reported by someone else)
- Tiredness throughout the day
- Excessive daytime sleeping (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Gasping for air while sleeping
- Awakening with a dry mouth
When to See a Doctor
It is important that you see a doctor when you notice the symptoms listed above. Untreated issues may be linked to many serious health conditions like depression, heart attack, stroke, and more. Experienced doctors like Dr. Krueger Sleep & Sinus Clinic can diagnose your condition and recommend the ideal treatment.
There are many approaches to treating the condition. Milder cases can be addressed through lifestyle changes, like losing weight and quitting smoking. Serious cases can be treated through therapies and surgery.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
- Other airway pressure devices
- Oral appliances
- Supplemental oxygen
- Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV)
- Tissue removal
- Tissue shrinking
- Jaw repositioning
- Nerve stimulation
- Creating a new air passageway
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that can result in serious complications if left untreated. It is important that you consult your doctor when you notice the symptoms. In addition to the treatment options listed here, treatment may involve treating associated medical problems.