Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects, an estimated, 1 in 4 adults. At least 80% of those affected are undiagnosed. If sleep apnea is not treated it can lead to serious health issues that will have long term negative effects on ones well being. With sleep apnea there are breaks or pauses in breathing while asleep.
The top signs to look for to determine if someone has sleep apnea are as follows: (The only way to accurately know if someone has sleep apnea is to have a sleep test and have the results reviewed by sleep medicine specialist MD)
1. Snoring – This is the most common symptom of sleep apnea; loud and chronic snoring is almost always associated with sleep apnea. If you share a bed with someone, they will tell you if you are snoring. And when treated, your bed partner will be quite happy without the frequent sleep interruptions.
2. Waking up choking or gasping for air – When you stop breathing during sleep, the central nervous system will arouse you. If you have not been breathing for a while you will awaken gasping for air.
3. You are tired all the time – If your sleep cycle is constantly interrupted, you will not get restful sleep. Even if the central nervous system arousals are mild, you won’t get restful sleep because the sleep cycle is broken, preventing deep sleep. Daytime sleepiness affects your productivity at work and there is increased danger of accidents due to excessive daytime sleepiness.
4. You frequently awaken with headaches – You can get vascular headaches due to the decreased levels of oxygen to the brain overnight.
5. You have high blood pressure – You can develop high blood pressure from sleep apnea. The decreased oxygen levels put a strain on the heart. Your blood pressure can increase to compensate for the strain on the heart to push more blood due to decreased oxygen levels.
6. You are irritable, depressed or have mood swings – This is common in patients with sleep apnea. Lack of quality sleep will affect your mood and general disposition.
7. You are overweight – Sleep apnea is often caused by excess fatty tissues around the throat. If you are overweight the likelihood of having sleep apnea is greatly increased.
Sleep apnea can be treated, helping to reverse the potential health threats that accompany it. The options for treatment are a CPAP (a positive air pressure machine), oral appliance therapy or surgery to open the airway. If you suspect you or a loved one has sleep apnea, speak to your doctor or dentist about it.
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