Symptoms And Treatments For Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea symptoms

Sleep Apnea is a pretty common sleeping disorder. But despite this fact, a lot of people don’t realize exactly what it is, what causes it, what the symptoms are, or how to treat it.

So in this post, that’s what we’re going to talk about. But first, let’s quickly talk about exactly what sleep apnea is.

According to WebMD.com, Sleep Apnea is “a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep.”

They also go on to describe the disorder like this…

“People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”

But what are the symptoms? Well, WebMD.com also does a good job of giving us a good list of symptoms that are commonly associated with sleep apnea. These include…

  • Restless sleep
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood changes
  • A decreased interest in sex
  • Recurrent episodes of insomnia
  • Loud snoring
  • Waking up with a sore or dry throat
  • Occasionally waking up feeling like you are choking or gasping for air
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Sleepiness while driving or performing other daytime activities
  • Morning headaches

While a person suffering from sleep apnea may not have every single one of these, they are all symptoms that could point toward the fact that you are, indeed, suffering from the disorder.

The Dangers Of Sleep Apnea

A lot of people think that Sleep Apnea, like snoring, is little more than a nuisance. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, Sleep Apnea puts the sufferer at an increased risk for a wide range of different diseases and conditions. These include depression, headaches, high blood pressure, heart failure, stroke, and even worsening of ADHD symptoms. It can even make you more prone to mood swings, bipolar disorder, and other similar types of personality disorders.

And of course, let’s not forget that it can also cause excessive daytime fatigue – to the point where you may even fall asleep at the wheel or at work, which in itself can be very dangerous.

So… What Should You Do?

Well, as it turns out, there are several treatments for Sleep Apnea… so if you are currently suffering from it, don’t be discouraged. Here is some information that might help to point you in the right direction.

Treatments For Sleep Apnea

First of all, it is imperative that you speak to your doctor about your sleep apnea if you are afraid that you may be suffering from it. As a legitimate and dangerous sleeping disorder, it isn’t something that you should attempt to fix all by yourself.

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For a legitimate diagnosis, your doctor may or may not order a sleep study – and in any case, it is important that you take his/her advice on this and get it done.

But after that, if you do end up being diagnosed with OSA, there are a few different treatment options that you will likely be presented with.

If your case of sleep apnea is rather mild, then your doctor may prescribe some simple lifestyle changes. Losing weight, getting more exercise, and eating a healthier diet can all really make a difference. A lot of specialists say that losing just 10% of your body weight (if you are obese or overweight) can make a big difference where sleep apnea is concerned.

Quitting smoking and alcohol consumption can also do you a lot of good. Even sleeping on your stomach or your side, rather than your back, can contribute in a positive way.

For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe CPAP therapy. Surgery can also be an option in some cases, depending on the factors in your specific case. In some cases, stop snoring devices can do the trick, especially when paired with positive lifestyle changes.

Some of these, such as some different types of mandibular advancement devices, can even be prescribed to treat OSA in some countries. So asking your doctor about that option could also yield positive results.

The key, of course, is to be proactive, and to take your health and wellness seriously enough to actually get the help you need to overcome the problem.

Sleep apnea is serious… but it is very reversible and can be overcome with the right measures.

Steps You Can Take To Reduce Your Sleep Apnea Risk

Sleep Apnea Risks

If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, then you should know that it is very possible to help reverse the problem by changing a few risk-factors. You can also lessen the risk of suffering from the disorder one day in the future by making a few simple changes to your life today.

These steps may not completely remove the risk of suffering from Sleep Apnea over the course of your life – but they can certainly help to reduce the odds.

With that being said, here are some of the steps that you can take.

Start An Exercise Regimen

Getting some exercise can do a lot of good to help you maintain a better state of health and well-being – and this is certainly true when it comes to Sleep Apnea as well. In fact, losing weight is one of the best steps that you can take to lower your risk for this very-common sleeping disorder, as having more fatty tissue around the neck can mean a definite increase in the odds that you will develop some problems with it.

Reduce Your Sleep Apnea Risk

Try to fit in 20 minutes of exercise per day, if you can. If you can’t exercise that much, at least try to fit in about 30 minutes three days a week. Taking a walk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, jogging, playing a sport, or even hiking with friends can make a difference. Little changes add up to big gains over time, so making even a small effort will go a long way.

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If you can, start hitting the gym. Lifting and/or running on the treadmill have so many benefits – and will help you a lot, in every aspect of your life.

Start Eating Healthier

Changing your diet can also do a lot to help contribute to weight loss – which will, in turn, decrease your odds of developing or suffering from sleep apnea. Try drinking fewer sugary drinks, and stick more to water, unsweetened tea, and coffee instead (regular black coffee – not the sugary kind).

As far as foods go, try to eat fewer fried, fatty foods, and eat more whole foods and vegetables. There are a lot of different healthy-eating guidelines out there, so you should research the ones that seem to fit you the best and follow those.

Eating out less, and eating less fast food, can also help a lot.

Drink More Water

Staying hydrated can help your airway to stay properly coated with liquids, which will keep it from getting dry and sticky. Dry and sticky means a higher likelihood of snoring – and potentially, could make you more susceptible to sleep apnea.

Stop Drinking Alcohol, Especially Within The Hours Before You Go To Bed

Alcohol is a depressant, meaning that it actually relaxes your muscles. And if you go to bed buzzed or drunk… well, your muscles will relax even more-so than they normally would have.

And this means that you will be at an even bigger risk for experiencing obstructive sleep apnea.

Plus, drinking beer or hard liquor can be a double-negative for people suffering from OSA, as it can contribute to a greater calorie intake at the same time… which can lead to faster weight gain.

Stop Smoking

Statistics tell us that smokers are 2.5 times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than those who don’t smoke. The reasoning for this, many believe, is because smoking causes the airway to ‘swell,’ which contributes to airway restriction and makes it more difficult to breathe.

Smoking even causes swelling in the nose and throat… which can also contribute to a snoring problem, even if it does not lead to full-fledged sleep apnea.

In Summary

All of these factors are controllable, meaning that you can most certainly affect your risk of suffering from OSA by making a few small changes. By choosing to make a change in one or more of these categories, you can effectively reduce the odds that you will end up sleep deprived… so be proactive and start making choices that will lead you to a better quality of sleep.

Your well-rested future self will thank you!

Updated 8.12.2018

References

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-apnea

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/sleep-apnea

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy-sleep/health-risks/the-dangers-of-uncontrolled-sleep-apnea

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