Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder which is widely prevalent across the country. Statistics say that, on an average, 20 million adults suffer from a severe sleep disorder, and only eight out of ten cases are diagnosed. Most people are not aware of this ailment, or they don’t realize that it is the root cause of the other diseases and physical and mental discomforts they face. However, if left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to severe consequences.
The three main types of sleep apnea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnea where the person faces challenges with breathing while they are asleep
- Central sleep apnea where the brain fails to send signals to the respiratory system, and thus there are pauses in breathing
- Complex sleep apnea occurs when a person suffers from both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
- Loud snoring
A block or obstruction in the upper respiratory airways restricts the airflow, which is the primary cause of snoring. People who snore are often not aware of this problem and disturb their co-sleepers. While loud and chronic snore is a common sign of this disease, it is not necessary that if one snores, they have sleep apnea.
- Recurrent disturbances in breathing
In this case, when a person sleeps, the fatty tissues of the throat or tongue relax and fall back into their air passage, restricting the flow of air. Thus, it may stop a patient’s breath for a few seconds, which causes the oxygen levels in the blood to drop. This drop alerts their brain and awakens the respiratory system again.
This entire activity happens so quickly that most of the time, the patient doesn’t even realize it. However, constant disturbances in sleep do not give the patient’s brain the desired rest.
- Perpetual tiredness, fatigue, irritability, and hypersomnia
In spite of being in bed for more than 7 hours if one does not get quality sleep, their body is bound to feel tired and irritated. If it persists for a long duration of time, it will make a patient drowsy during the day and affect their productivity and other aspects of life. Moreover, it can also cause hypersomnia, a problem related to daytime drowsiness.
- Frequent headaches and high blood pressure
As the flow of oxygen to the brain is often disrupted throughout the night, the brain’s blood vessels widen up and cause vascular headaches and high blood pressure. It is a common symptom of this condition, and if one finds that they get up every morning with a severe headache, even after getting 8 hours of sleep, or if one suddenly develops high blood pressure despite a disciplined lifestyle, they must visit the doctor.
When excess fatty tissues build up in the throat or neck, it falls on the airways, causing sleep disturbance. Thus, people suffering from obesity or excess weight problem have higher chances of suffering from sleep apnea.
Today, various treatments and devices are available to treat sleep apnea. Hence, one should visit their doctor as soon as they notice the early signs of this condition.