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A brief overview on sleep apnea

Sleep apnea, a widespread disorder that affects an estimated 22 million Americans, causes your breath to stop or become extremely shallow for anywhere from a few seconds to minutes. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, it can happen more than once each hour.

The disease increases the risk of cardiac disorders and possibly sudden death dramatically. It is associated to a number of health issues, ranging from moderate to severe. Click here to get about cardiac disorders due to sleep apnea. People often are unaware they have sleep apnea since it happens when they are asleep. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 80% of all instances of obstructive sleep apnea are really undiagnosed (ASAA).

Three forms of sleep apnea may be roughly characterized.

Primary Sleep Apnea

According to Christine Won, M.D., head of the Women’s Sleep Health Program at Yale Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to tell the lungs to take a breath while the patient is asleep, resulting in protracted breathing pauses. Every night, “all of us experience one or two central apneas,” she claims.

When it occurs too frequently—more than five times per hour—along with signs of sleep disruption, it is, nevertheless, regarded as a condition. When breathing is reduced by drugs like opioids, heart failure, and cardiac arrhythmias may all contribute to central sleep apnea. According to Dr. Won, central apnea condition may sometimes develop randomly.

Related: 4 Things to note about sleep apnea and CPAP

A brief overview on sleep apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When the airway becomes blocked while you sleep, it causes obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, which reduces airflow to the lungs. The most prevalent and perhaps most dangerous kind of sleep apnea is this one.

Dr. Won explains that people with obstructive sleep apnea have a strong need to breathe but are unable to do so due of the airway blockage. When this occurs, sleep is disturbed and oxygen levels may decrease, much like central sleep apnea.

Complex or Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When someone has both OSA and CSA at the same time, they have the third kind of sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea may show a number of symptoms. Others take place throughout the day, while others happen when you’re sleeping.

Signs While Sleeping

Your bed partner could notice some of these symptoms before you do.

According to Dr. Won, snoring indicates that there is some resistance in the airways and may be a symptom of sleep apnea. According to a 2016 research published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, individuals with OSA should have further sleep testing done if they snore for 15% or more of their total sleep duration.

When an individual’s airway is blocked, as is the case in instances of obstructive sleep apnea, they may awaken suddenly or “gasp awake,” according to Dr. Won. However, gasping when awake may also be a symptom of other conditions, such as asthma or heart failure.

Regular waking up People with sleep apnea may regularly wake up, whether or not they remember it. According to Dr. Won, “their sleep is disturbed, and they may not feel refreshed in the morning.”

A bed mate may see periods of quiet or a lack of breathing during an apnea, according to Dr. Won.

Nocturia, often known as frequent toilet visits: According to Dr. Won, persons with sleep apnea often need to use the restroom numerous times at night. She claims that frequent awakenings brought on by sleep apnea often result in many visits to the restroom. “Sleep apnea may also put pressure on the bladder when a person struggles to breathe through an obstruction in their airway, pressing down on the bladder and giving them the impression that they need to go to the toilet.”

Daytime Complaints

Unusual daytime fatigue is a typical symptom of sleep apnea.

Due to their irregular sleep patterns, some people with sleep apnea feel drowsy throughout the day. In fact, the most prevalent presenting symptom of OSA in the general population, as reported by up to half of people with the condition, was “excessive drowsiness,” according to a 2020 review of research published in JAMA. However, according to Dr. Won, “some individuals with severe sleep apnea do not feel tiredness at all.”

Dozing: Another indicator that you may have sleep apnea? Dr. Won emphasizes that daytime napping is “a marker of excessive drowsiness.”

Unrefreshing sleep: People who have a healthy sleep pattern should wake up feeling rejuvenated. According to Dr. Won, if you sleep for more than eight hours and don’t feel rested in the morning, there may be an issue with the quality of your sleep or other sleep problems that need to be looked at.

headaches upon waking: According to Dr. Won, headaches upon waking may be caused by repeated arousals brought on by sleep apnea or by frequent reductions in oxygen levels while sleeping.

Lack of attention or focus Mood irritability: Insufficient sleep may cause a volatile or depressed mood, which may manifest as being easily distracted or being unable to finish activities effectively. According to Dr. Won, in order to remain robust and handle daily challenges, we need restorative sleep.

A brief overview on sleep apnea

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosis Performed?

A sleep study, also known as polysomnography, is used to identify sleep apnea. A sleep facility or, in certain situations, your house may be used to perform a sleep study. In both situations, sensors are fastened to your body to capture information as you sleep, including your respiration rate, brain activity, and oxygen levels.

Risks to Health from Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most serious of the three, is linked to a variety of medical disorders and adverse effects that may range in severity from moderate to fatal. According to a highly respected 2008 research of more than 1,500 individuals published in the medical journal Sleep, those with severe sleep apnea, which involves frequent breathing pauses during sleep, are three times more likely to die from any cause than people without the disorder.

In the research, cardiovascular disease or stroke caused roughly 42% of deaths in adults with severe sleep apnea compared to 26% of deaths in those without the condition. A reduction or cessation of airflow despite attempts to breathe occurs during sleep as a consequence of muscles relaxing and the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapsing and obstructing the upper airway. This may prevent oxygen from reaching the heart.

Diabetes and poor glucose management, both metabolic disorders, are linked to OSA. All three forms of sleep apnea may affect emotional control, cognitive function, and focus, according to Dr Won, which are some of the more minor effects.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea has a variety of reasons, and each person’s primary cause is unique, according to Dr Won. Anatomical issues include nasal congestion, a big tongue base, large tonsils, a tiny jaw, or a broad, low hanging soft palate may cause obstructive sleep apnea.

Other reasons of OSA include aberrant breathing reflexes, which may cause some people to take excessive breaths while they sleep and contribute to collapsing airways, and abnormal airway muscle tone. According to Dr Won, certain people are more prone to having unstable airway mechanics because they wake up often throughout the night.

The causes of central apnea are likewise many. Some forms of central sleep apnea are brought on by the inhibition of the breathing reflex. Dr Won cites opioids as one drug that might impair breathing and result in central apnea. Some central apnea are caused by heart failure or may be the consequence of weak respiratory muscles (seen in neuromuscular illnesses), which results in unsuccessful breathing attempts. The communication from the brain to the lungs to breathe might sometimes be out of sync when someone has heart failure, the expert claims.