Obstructive sleep apnea is a surprisingly common medical problem which is suffered by many people. Potentially serious, this sleep condition causes the sufferer to continuously start and stop breathing during their sleep. The pauses between breaths can be quite long in duration, lasting from just a few seconds right up to several minutes, and this decreases oxygen levels in the body with ultimately potential harmful consequences on your health and body.
While there are several kinds of sleep apnea, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea which has several known causes, although obesity is the primary risk factor. When we sleep, the muscles in the throat relax causing the breathing airways to collapse resulting in pauses between breaths. Obesity compounds the problem due to the extra weight on the neck which adds more pressure to your airways worsening their collapse.
As obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition which is known to result in other medical problems, it is vital to be aware of the symptoms of the condition so that you can seek out medical help.
There are many causes of snoring, but if you snore constantly and loudly, this is a key sign of suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The narrowing of the airways results in the air making the neck’s soft tissues vibrate during breathing which is what causes snoring. Snoring is usually worse if you sleep on your back due to the higher amount of pressure on your neck.
Gasps And Pauses In Breathing
If you find that you are experiencing pauses in your snoring which are then followed by a loud gasp for air, this is another symptom to be aware of. The silence is generally caused by the collapse of the airways and means that you are not breathing, reducing your oxygen levels significantly. Once this happens, your brain recognises that you need more air and your body is triggered into taking a deep breath with a gasp that wakes you from your sleep.
Sleepiness During The Day
Do you always feel exhausted during the day? While this can be a sign of several things including depression, stress, insomnia or medication use, sleep apnea is another possible cause. Sufferers find that they cannot enjoy a restful night of sleep due to the pauses in their breathing and their gasps for air which prevent REM sleep from taking place.
Lack Of Focus And Concentration
Proper sleep is essential for your focus and concentration as it is only then that the body can release specific hormones and store your memories. When you do not enter deep sleep, the ongoing sleepiness makes focus and concentration difficult and when those hormones cannot be released during the night you will also experience more irritability and mood swings.
Hypertension is commonly found among elderly people and adults. Treating high blood pressure and its underlying causes is essential to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and to cut your chance of experiencing a stroke or a heart attack. The pauses in breathing caused by sleep apnea results in decreased oxygen levels in the blood and this causes the blood vessels to get smaller, raising blood pressure.
Sore Throat And Dry Mouth
Sufferers of sleep apnea usually breathe through their mouth during sleep instead of their nose. Breathing through the nose helps to humidify your air, but the air stays dry when you breathe through your mouth and this causes dehydration in the throat and mouth, leading to a sore throat and dry mouth upon waking.