Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which your breathing is constantly interrupted. While sleep apnea is common among children and adults alike, it could prove to be detrimental. Undiagnosed, sleep apnea can make you susceptible to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke.
Estimated Number of People Diagnosed with Sleep Apnea (in Millions)
While the USA shows a significantly lower number, the reality is that 80% of moderate cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed that could later develop into more serious conditions.
Types of Sleep Apnea
The main types of sleep apnea are as follows:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is probably the most common type of sleeping disorder. It occurs when the throat muscles relax, resulting in the airway being blocked. Obesity is the most common cause of OSA among adults, while snoring is the most common sign of this condition.
Central Sleep Apnea
This condition is characterized by sudden breaks in the breathing pattern. This occurs because the brain is unable to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Less common than OSA, central sleep apnea often results in shortness of breath.
Complex Sleep Apnea
This condition occurs when a person with OSA receives treatment, resulting in central sleep apnea. It is, therefore, also known as treatment-emergent sleep apnea whereby the person is inflicted by both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Signs of Sleep Apnea
In light of the complications that could arise, it is important to pay heed to this seemingly harmless sleeping disorder. However, it is commonly asked how one can detect if they might have sleep apnea? Here are a few signs of obstructive and central sleep apnea since they tend to overlap.
- Loud and persistent snoring
- Shortness of breath
- Gasping for air
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Intervals where the person stops breathing while sleeping (could be reported by another person)
- Headache in the morning
- Lack of concentration
- Hypersomnia in the morning
When to See a Doctor?
While loud snoring does not necessarily mean that you have sleep apnea, it is better to take a quick test to determine whether you have this sleeping disorder. If you are showing signs, it is better to consult a doctor to mitigate the condition before it causes any further complications.
The treatment for sleep apnea varies on the level of your condition and the type of sleep apnea you have.
- In mild cases, the doctor may recommend certain lifestyle changes like weight loss and reduced consumption of alcohol and smoking.
- If you have nasal congestion, your doctor will advise treatment to help with your allergies.
- In case your condition does not better with the following remedies, your doctor may recommend certain devices that help open up the blocked airway that is troubling you.
- In some cases, doctors may advise surgery to combat the root cause, to shrink large throat tissue, or to stiffen a soft palate.