Do you snore? Do you gasp for air while you sleep? Do you wake up tired? If so, you could be a victim of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a threatening epidemic that takes place when a person’s breathing is interrupted or stopped for a period of time during sleep. This disease could transpire hundreds of times during the night where the individual may stop breathing for up to a terrifying minute without oxygen. GASP!
There are three types of sleep apnea:
1. Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain does not convey a signal to the muscles to take a breath, and there is a refusal in muscular attempt to breathe. This can be triggered by heart failure.
2. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the brain conveys a signal to the muscles and the muscles make an effort to take a breath, but fail as the airway is obstructed and prevents an adequate flow of air. Obstructed sleep apnea can be caused by weight, tonsils, or jaw anatomy.
3. Mixed Sleep Apnea occurs when there is both central and obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep and oxygen deprivation are some of the dangerous health consequences of sleep apnea. Lack of sleep will make it strenuous to stay awake during the day and can result in body fatigue, headaches, a compromised immune system, poor mental and emotional health, irritability and insomnia. Furthermore, oxygen deprivation can be life-threatening and result in heart disease, high blood pressure, sexual dysfunction as well as memory and learning impediments.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed as many people do not realize they are a victim of substandard snoozing. A family member or bed partner may be the first to notice the signs of sleep apnea. There are numerous treatment options for this looming disease. Only your doctor or sleep specialist can tell you which treatment option is best for you. Some treatments include avoiding alcohol, sleeping on your side and weight loss. Severe cases of sleep apnea can be treated by surgery or a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, also known as CPAP, which is a device that is worn over the nose and mouth.
It has been reported that about 18 million Americans have sleep apnea and individuals over the age of 40, especially males, are more likely to suffer from this disorder. Unfortunately, 80-90% of adults with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. Talk to your doctor if you believe you or a loved one may be suffering from this daunting disease and catch up on your much needed ZZZs.