Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops and repeatedly starts during sleep. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.
The main types are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep.
- Central sleep apnea is the result of improper signals sent by the brain to the breathing muscles.
- Sleep apnea complex syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when a person suffers from both obstructive and central.
Some signs and symptoms of both types overlap, making it difficult to determine which type you have. Obstructive and central apnea is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Loud snore
- An episode of stopping breathing while sleeping – which another person would report to you
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Difficulty paying attention while awake
Obstructive sleep apnea
When the muscles in the back of your throat relax, this occurs. Tonsils, side walls of the throat, tongue, and the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate are all supported by these muscles.
Central sleep apnea
It occurs when your brain fails to send signals to your breathing muscles.
Obstructive sleep apnea
The following factors increase the risk of this condition.
- Weight gain: Obesity increases the risk.
- Neck circumference: Thicker necks might result in narrower airways.
- A narrowed airway: You might have inherited a narrow throat.
- Being male: It is more common among men
- Being older: Older adults are significantly more likely to suffer.
- Family history: Your risk may be higher if you have family members with the similar disease.
- Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers: The relaxing effects of these substances can worsen the condition.
- Smoking: Upper airway inflammation and fluid retention are commonly associated with smoking.
- Nasal congestion: Anatomical problems or allergies can cause difficulty breathing through the nose.
- Medical conditions: People with congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease are more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
Central sleep apnea
Risk factors include:
- Being older: The risk of this type increases with age. It is more prevalent in men.
- Heart disorders: Congestive heart failure increases the risk.
- Using narcotic pain medications: It is associated with opioid medications, especially long-acting ones such as methadone.
- Stroke: Having had a stroke increases your chance of developing the risk.
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- Daytime fatigue: It makes restorative sleep impossible, causing daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability.You might also feel irritable, moody, or depressed. These patients may perform poorly in school or have behavioral problems.
- High blood pressure or heart problems: It causes hypertension.
- Type 2 diabetes: Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are linked to sleep apnea.
- Metabolic syndrome: There is a higher risk of heart disease associated with this disorder.
- Complications with medications and surgery: Certain medications and general anesthesia can also be the cause.
- You should discuss your problem with a sleep apnea doctor before surgery.
- Liver problems: Patients with sleep apnea have abnormal liver function tests and are more likely to develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
If you need more evaluation, you may need to see a sleep apnea specialist.
Sleep centers often monitor your breathing and other body functions during sleep during an evaluation by an expert online sleep doctor.
Sleep apnea can be detected with the following tests:
- Nocturnal polysomnography: Your heart, lungs, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels are monitored during this test.
- Sleep tests online: The tests usually measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow, and breathing patterns.
You may need to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. A cardiologist or neurologist can evaluate the disorder and identify its causes.
A mild case may only require lifestyle changes, such as losing weight or quitting smoking. You will need to do sleep apnea treatment at home. Your sleep apnea doctor will recommend treatment for nasal allergies if you have them. It is possible to open a blocked airway with certain devices. In other cases, surgery might be necessary.