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.
Causes of Sleep apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when there is an obstruction of airflow in the throat muscles. When air doesn’t get inside your body to deliver enough oxygen, breathing is blocked, and you end up gasping for air during the night. This may cause you to wake up regularly, snore loudly, or feel tired even after waking up 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 during sleep. Even more concerning is that the relaxed state of these muscles can block your nasal airways when you breathe in. And if blockage happens, your brain will prompt you to wake up so you can restore normal breathing. These interruptions prevent you from enjoying a thorough, restful sleep.
Sleep apnea may also be caused by brain signaling issues (central sleep apnea). When the brain is unable to transmit signals to your throat tissue effectively, you may end up with blocked airways and difficulty breathing while you sleep. Shortness of breath will cause you to wake up frequently throughout the night and interfere with your ability to fall deep asleep. Some patients experience a combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea, which may eventually result in many different health risks.
Warning signs of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is characterized by specific symptoms, which can be warning signs of this condition. Identifying the warning signs of sleep apnea can help you seek timely treatment before you develop more serious health conditions.
Some of the most common warning signs of sleep apnea include:
1. Unusually loud snoring
Snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea. The snoring sound is caused by relaxed throat muscles, which may block your airways while sleeping. If you or your partner snores frequently and wakes up feeling exhausted, this may be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea.
2. Shortness of breath causing you to wake up at night
Blockages in air pathways may cause you to struggle with breathing. In turn, you may end up waking up at night to gasp for air. Most people may not consciously notice this waking upcycle, but it still prevents you from enjoying a deep and restful sleep. Your partner (or another person who sleeps near you) may notice your difficulty in breathing while you sleep.
If this condition is recurrent, you should seek treatment from a sleep apnea expert as soon as possible. Problems with breathing while you sleep may eventually worsen into heart complications, stroke, chronic headaches, and other health conditions.
3. Excessive exhaustion during the day
Daytime exhaustion is perhaps one of the most overlooked symptoms of sleep apnea. You may be wondering why you constantly feel tired, struggle to concentrate, or even fall asleep randomly throughout the day.
Sleep apnea often causes patients not to get enough rest, and thus they end up feeling excessively tired and sleepy at other times. Such symptoms should be treated as soon as possible by a sleep apnea expert.
4. Lower performance of daily activities
Daytime exhaustion can leave you struggling to perform your daily activities. You may have trouble staying focused, performing manual work, or remaining productive later in the day. These symptoms are common signs of sleep apnea that warrant treatment.
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’re suspecting that you may have sleep apnea, consult a sleep apnea expert as soon as possible to get the treatment you need.