Most people are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms without even realizing it. In fact, it’s estimated that 22 million Americans are currently suffering from this dangerous condition and 80% are undiagnosed.
Why is sleep apnea so dangerous? It is a condition that causes your breathing to fully or partially stop during the night. Then your body enters a panic mode, as it needs air! As a result, your chest may heave or you may wake up choking or gasping for air. These activities are incredibly exhausting and prevent you from getting the proper rest you need.
Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms
If you ever find yourself wondering, “Do I have sleep apnea?” then it’s time to take action. Begin by researching sleep apnea symptoms to see how many side effects you suffer from. This will help you determine if you need to take further action such as speaking to your healthcare professional or taking a sleep apnea test.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Pauses in breathing during sleep noticed by another person
- Morning headache
- Attention problems
- Insomnia (waking up frequently without a reason)
- Unusual posture during sleep (if you sleep sitting up or propped up by pillows)
- Mood changes, such as depression or irritability
Loud snoring (Snoring as a related symptom of sleep apnea is loud and typically has periods of silence. When this type of snoring is experienced, be sure to consult your doctor to see if sleep apnea could be the cause.)
If you experience any combination of these signs of sleep apnea it is recommended that you see a healthcare professional for testing.
Sleep Apnea Risk factors
There are many risk factors associated with sleep apnea that can increase your risk. Sleep apnea can occur in all age groups and can affect both females and males even though men are twice as likely to develop this condition than men.
Health factors that may put you at a higher risk of experiencing sleep apnea:
- Being overweight with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 25 or higher or being obese with a BMI of 30 or higher.
- Large neck size of 17 inches in circumference or more in men and 16 inches or more for women.
- Family history of sleep apnea.
- Small upper airway.
- Recessed chin, small jaw, or large overbite.
- Smoking and alcohol use.
Sleep Apnea Causes
The signs of sleep apnea you experience may vary based on the type of sleep apnea you have. Here are the three most common types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by your airways becoming fully or partially blocked while you sleep, generally from your throat relaxing and collapsing.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when your brain fails to send signals to breathe to your muscles while you sleep.
- Mixed Sleep Apnea or Complex Sleep Apnea is when someone has mixed symptoms from both OSA and CSA.
The Dangers of Untreated Sleep Apnea
If you’re suffering from any combination of sleep apnea symptoms you should take action towards properly managing the condition. If left untreated, not only will your sleep apnea side effects lead to a life of exhaustion, but they could contribute to the following life-altering conditions:
- Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Traffic Accidents
- Memory Loss
- Liver Problems
- Acid Reflux
If you fall into any of these risk factors or have any of the symptoms of sleep apnea, there are few different ways to test for sleep apnea. The traditional way to be tested is a polysomnography study or in-lab study. This is typically a two-night study where you would go to a sleep clinic and be monitored by a sleep technician.
You can also request an unattended sleep study or home sleep apnea test. This type of sleep study is done in your home with a sleep test device that you sleep with for one to two nights.
Both of types of test are successful at diagnosing sleep apnea. However, the sleep apnea test at home is much less expensive, and more comfortable, as you can sleep in the comfort of your own bed, instead of in a clinic.
The test is sent directly to your door complete with instructions. Simply ship it back after one night of use and a qualified sleep technician will analyze the results. The results will then be sent to your doctor so they can provide a sleep apnea diagnosis, depending on if you have sleep apnea or not.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
While there are sleep apnea treatments such as making healthier lifestyle changes to lose weight or sleep apnea surgery, if you receive a sleep apnea diagnosis, the most common type of treatment is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. CPAP treatment sends a positive air pressure through your airway to keep it open to prevent obstructed breathing.
Once people start using their CPAPs they suddenly feel like they’ve gotten their life back as they break free from exhausting sleep apnea symptoms. Suddenly, they’re more energetic and feel more positive, and most importantly, well rested.