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What Is Sleep Apnea?

What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where breathing is repeatedly impaired while sleeping. If you snore loudly and feel exhausted after a full night’s sleep, then you may have sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea? The main kinds of sleep apnea are:

Obstructive sleep apnea, is the most common form and occurs when the throat muscles relax during sleep and partially or completely block the airway

Central sleep apnea occurs when your muscles that control breathing do not receive proper signals from your brain so breathing doesn’t occur regularly

Complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea

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what is sleep apneaSymptoms of Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms of both obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to ascertain which kind you have. The most common symptoms and signs of both central and obstructive sleep apneas are:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep that are witnessed by another person
  • Morning headaches
  • Choking and gasping for air during sleep
  • Insomnia – difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Irritability
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Difficulty staying focused

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When to see a Physician – What is sleep apnea?

Although loud snoring can indicate a potentially serious issue, not everyone with sleep apnea snores. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea take our online quiz to determine whether or not you are at risk. Speak with your doctor if you have signs or symptoms of sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea

If the muscles in your throat and upper airway relax, your airway narrows or closes as you Breathe in. You can not get sufficient oxygen, which may lower the oxygen level in your blood. Your brain senses your own inability to breathe and briefly rouses you out of sleep so that you may reopen your airway. This stirring is so short people often don’t recall it.

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Factors that increase the risk of sleep apnea include:

Excess weight.: Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits on your upper airway can block your breathing. Neck circumference: Individuals with thicker necks have more collapsible airways.

You might have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can expand and obstruct the airway, particularly in children.

Being male. Men are two to three times more likely to possess Sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they are overweight, and their danger also appears to grow after menopause.

Being older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more frequently in Older adults.

Family history. Having family members with sleep apnea may Increase your risk.

Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have Obstructive sleep apnea than are people who’ve never smoked.

Medical conditions. Congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, Stress, type 2 diabetes, depression, cardiac arrythmias (especially Atrial Fibrillation) are significantly increased with obstructive sleep apnea. Polycystic ovary syndrome, hormonal disorders, prior stroke and chronic lung diseases such as asthma are also associated. For more information on medical conditions please visit the NIH.

Using narcotic pain medicines. Opioid medications, Especially long-acting ones like methadone, increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep Apnea can also be a concern with certain drugs and general anesthesia, and complicate recovery from surgery and healing. People with sleep apnea may be more likely to have complications after major surgery since they are prone to breathing problems, especially after anesthesia, when sedated and lying on their backs.

**However , people with many types of sleep disorders have associated medical problems and suffer from unrefreshing sleep, causing them to have impaired performance at work or school, so more than just sleep apnea may be present.

You May Have difficulty concentrating and end up Falling asleep in the office, while watching TV or even when driving. People with sleep disorders have an increased risk of motor vehicle and workplace accidents. Loud snoring can also keep the person who sleeps near you from getting a good night’s rest. It’s not uncommon for couples with sleep disorders (including sleep apnea) to sleep apart.

Proper diagnosis and treatment is imperative if you suffer from a sleep disorder. If you have any of the symptoms use our online screener to determine your risk level.