Sleep Apnea is a condition that prevents normal breathing during sleep. A person suffering from sleep apnea has pauses in their breathing while sleeping. These pauses can last anywhere from a couple of seconds to a few minutes, and can happen dozens of times per hour while trying to sleep. This condition is thought to affect millions and millions of people worldwide, and a large percentage of these folks don't even know they have it.
There are three types of sleep apnea to consider. Take a look at the list below.
* Central Sleep Apnea - This the most rare form of the condition, affecting less than one percent of sleep apnea sufferers. With this condition, there is a lack of respiratory effort. This could be caused by your brain not sending the proper signals to continue breathing.
* Obstructive Sleep Apnea - This form of sleep apnea is characterized by pauses in breathing that are caused by some sort of obstruction. This is by far the most common form of sleep apnea, with approximately eighty five percent of sufferers affected. The obstruction which causes the interruptions can be many things, including large tonsils, excess throat tissue, allergies which clog the airways, etc.
* Complex Sleep Apnea - The name says it all. Complex, or sometimes called mixed sleep apnea is a combination of Central and Obstructive sleep apnea, and is present in about fourteen percent of the people diagnosed with sleep apnea.
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As mentioned above, many people who suffer from sleep apnea don't know they have this condition. Some of the signs and symptoms that
you may have sleep apnea include being excessively tired during the day, moodiness or irritability, and having difficulty concentrating. Other signs that you could be suffering from this condition include a sore or dry throat in the morning, headaches upon awakening, loud snoring, and waking during the middle of the night with a choking or gasping sensation.
Since obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form, let's take a closer look at some of the causes of this condition and what can be done to help prevent it.
Obstructive sleep apnea is present in many individuals that have physical characteristics which are conducive to this condition. These people simply have smaller airways or larger necks. Being overweight can play a role in obstructive sleep apnea. The reason is that when you relax during sleep, the muscles of the throat also relax to a point where they collapse and restrict the flow of air.
Some people also have extra large tonsils and excessive tissue in the throat which can contribute to this condition.
Any form of smoking can also help contribute to sleep apnea because it causes inflammation of the throat tissues. Another factor is age. Sleep apnea is more common in older people and also in males rather than females.
Excessive alcohol consumption is also thought to contribute to sleep apnea. Too much drinking can cause all your muscles to relax during sleep and choke off your air supply.
Oftentimes it's a bed partner or another family member that notices a person struggling for breath during sleep, and the sufferer is completely unaware.
There are many treatments for sleep apnea. Just some of the common types include sleep with some sort of device designed to keep your airways clear, such as a mouth guard to hold your jaw in a certain position, or a device called a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. To use this machine, a mask is usually worn during sleep. The machine sends a gentle stream of air that's designed to keep your airways open during slumber.
Surgery is also an option if other treatments don't seem to help. All the types of surgery are done with the intention of reducing the excess tissue in the mouth and throat so the airways can be kept clear during sleep. Surgery is sometimes recommended for people who cannot tolerate the more traditional oral devices or sleeping with a CPAP machine.
Restful sleep is absolutely vital for your health and wellbeing. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, see your doctor about what can be done. Diagnosis is usually made through a sleep study and can be helpful in overcoming this condition. Your doctor will have specific recommendations about how best to proceed if a diagnosis of sleep apnea is made. Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can be a dangerous condition.