Interrupted breathing while sleeping can give rise to an array of what we call sleep breathing disorders, which occur due to abnormal respiration during sleep. Sleep breathing disorders result in interrupted sleep and may make the person more susceptible to chronic conditions later on. As a result, it is imperative to get an early diagnosis and receive simple treatment to mitigate these disruptions.
There are various types of sleep breathing disorders, the most common being Sleep Apnea that affects millions of people all over the world.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
OSA is a common sleeping disorder whereby the airway becomes blocked, leaving little air to reach the lungs. This results in loud snoring or leaves the person gasping for breath. While OSA is usually not considered a serious problem, the lack of oxygen can make the person vulnerable to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke later down the road.
Symptoms of OSA
OSA usually goes undiagnosed, but the following signs point towards this sleeping disorder:
- Loud snoring
- Tiredness in the morning
- Shortness of breath while asleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth
Risk Factors for OSA
- Frequent smoking or alcohol consumption
- Thicker neck circumstance
- Gender (more common in males)
- Family history
- Narrow airway
- Nasal congestion
Your doctor may advise surgery, use of an oral device, or simple lifestyle changes to mitigate and eventually get rid of OSA altogether.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Another type of sleep apnea, albeit less common, is Central Sleep apnea. In this condition, the person experiences intervals in breathing during sleep. It differs from OSA as OSA is caused by blocked airway while CSA is due to the inability of the brain to send signals to the muscles.
Types of CSA
- Primary Central Sleep Apnea
- Cheyne-Stokes Breathing Pattern (due to heart failure or kidney failure)
- Medical Condition Apnea (due to heart and kidney complications)
- High-Altitude Periodic Breathing (due to sleeping at an altitude higher than 15000 feet)
- Drug/Substance abuse induced apnea
Symptoms of CSA
- Pause in breathing
- Hypersomnia in daytime
This is probably the most common sleeping disorder that can disturb you as well as those around you. Snoring is a loud noise that occurs when the air you breathe causes the tissues in your throat to vibrate. As you breathe in, the nose, the mouth, or both produce a significant sound called snoring.
Risk Factors of Snoring
- Alcohol consumption
- Nasal Issues (Deviated Septum)
- Congestion due to allergies
- Gender (40% men snore, 24% women snore)
Snoring vs. OSA
The two sleeping disorders are often mistaken to be the same. Snoring may be a sign of OSA, but it may occur independently as well whereas OSA is a serious sleep disorder where the breathing is interrupted in intervals.
This is a sleep breathing disorder that produces an audible groaning sound in your sleep. The breathing tends to become very slow during this groaning period. While the person groaning may not notice, this notice can cause disturbance to people around. These groaning episodes last for about 40 seconds.
Groaning becomes more severe at the Rapid eye movement (REM) stage and is characterized by loud crackling sounds, humming or roaring. An ENT specialist may be able to diagnose the cause of Catathrenia to recommend treatment.