Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing is interrupted during sleep. Because regular breathing is critical to your health, having the flow of air disrupted while you sleep could result in many different health consequences. For example, sleep apnea is often a precursor to heart disease, depression, high blood pressure, and excessive daytime fatigue.
If untreated, your sleep apnea could also affect performance during daily activities. This is because a lack of sleep can make you feel tired and unproductive at school or work.
Causes of Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is commonly caused by obstructed airflow through the throat muscles. When air doesn’t get inside your body to deliver oxygen, breathing is blocked, and you end up gasping for air. This may cause you to wake up periodically, snore loudly, or feel tired in the morning. There are three main types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax and cause you to snore. Even more concerning is that the relaxed state of these muscles can block your nasal airways, signaling your brain to wake up so you can restore normal breathing. Repetitive wakening can prevent you from enjoying a deep, restful sleep.
Sleep apnea can also be caused by brain signaling issues (central sleep apnea). When the brain is unable to transmit signals effectively to your throat tissue, your airway becomes blocked and breathing difficult. Shortness of breath will cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night, preventing you from falling into a deep sleep. Some patients experience a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea which is referred to as complex or mixed sleep apnea, which can lead to a combination of health risks.
Warning Signs of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea symptoms range from loud snoring to excessive drowsiness during the day. Identifying the warning signs of sleep apnea can help you seek timely treatment before you develop more severe health conditions. Some of the most common warning signs of sleep apnea include:
- Unusually Loud Snoring: Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. The snoring sound is caused by relaxed throat muscles, which may block your airways while sleeping. If you or your partner frequently wake up because of snoring, this may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
- Shortness of Breath: Blocked air pathways may cause you to struggle with breathing. In turn, you may end up waking up at night gasping for air. Most people may not consciously notice this waking upcycle, but it still prevents you from enjoying a deep and restful sleep. Problems with breathing while you sleep can eventually worsen into heart complications, stroke, chronic headaches, and other health conditions.
- Excessive Exhaustion During the Day: Daytime exhaustion is perhaps one of the most dismissed symptoms of sleep apnea. You may be wondering why you always feel tired, struggle to concentrate, or even fall asleep randomly throughout the day. When coffee is no longer enough, it’s time to see a sleep apnea expert as soon as possible.
- Low Productivity and Focus: Due to daytime exhaustion, you may also end up struggling to perform your daily activities. You may have trouble staying focused, performing manual work, or remaining productive for several hours. These are common signs of sleep apnea that warrant further investigation.
Detecting sleep apnea early is critical to receiving proper treatment. Furthermore, these early warning signs can help you avoid future health complications such as heart disease, excessive weight, and mental health issues. If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, consult the experts at Houston Sleep Apnea as soon as possible to get the treatment you need.