Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

If you have done much research at all about sleep apnea, then you have probably learned enough to know that there are basically two different types.

There is Central Sleep Apnea, which is much less common, and has to do with the brain.

Then, there is Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This is the most common type of sleep apnea, and has to do with physical problems in the throat or airway.

There is also a type called Mixed Sleep Apnea, but this just means that the person is suffering from both types, not just one.

In this post, we are going to talk about Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Here are some facts that are important for you to know if you think that you (or a loved one) might be suffering from it.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Here is a brief description of the sleeping disorder, according to mayoclinic.org.

“Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.”

A lot of people believe that Sleep Apnea is synonymous with snoring – but that isn’t necessarily true. Snoring can be (and often is) a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. But sometimes, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be present and occur even if snoring is not happening.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is basically caused by relaxed muscle and tissue in your airway that blocks the flow of air while you are sleeping. This will usually also cause you to snore, because the cause for snoring is very similar to this. Loose tissue partially blocks the airway, causing ‘vibrations’ that make the sounds that we have come to recognize as ‘snoring.’

But with OSA, this blockage is complete (or least mostly complete), and breathing stops altogether. This ‘pause’ in breathing can last anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds before the brain jolts the body partially awake. At this point, the sufferer takes in a gasp of air, and then quickly falls back to sleep.

Most people don’t realize that they’ve been awoken during these ‘apneas,’ but their quality of sleep is still disturbed, regardless.

And therein lies the true danger of obstructive sleep apnea.

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Why Is OSA Dangerous?

The real reason for why OSA is considered a dangerous sleeping disorder is not necessarily the snoring itself that it may cause – but the sleep deprivation.

You see, with every apnea, the individual wakes up enough that their quality of sleep becomes disturbed, and they have to fall back into a sound sleep all over again.

But apneas like this can happen many times every hour – and often repeat themselves dozens of times throughout the night.

People who suffer from Sleep Apnea are at an increased risk for developing other diseases and conditions as well. These include (but are not limited to…) heart disease, a heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

What Are The Symptoms Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The symptoms for OSA may include…

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loud snoring
  • Abrupt awakenings during the night, accompanied by a gasping or choking sound
  • Observable periods of ‘breathing cessation’ during sleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or with a sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Decreased libido
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • And many more

If you are afraid that you may be suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea, then it is very important that you talk to your doctor about it. Thankfully, there are many ways in which you can treat OSA. For more mild cases, your doctor may prescribe lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol and smoking.

For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe a CPAP machine. This involves a machine with a mask that you wear during sleep. It delivers continuous positive airway pressure to your airway… enough so that the sides of your throat and soft palate stay open, allowing the air to pass through without a problem.

There are also other types of treatments available as well. It all just depends on your situation and on your specific case.

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