You may have sleep apnea syndrome if your snoring is so loud that it wakes you up and your spouse. Sleep apnea syndrome is a sleep disorder whereby the respiratory passages become narrow, blocking the upper airway. If left undiagnosed and untreated, sleep apnea can seriously impact your health and your quality of life. Those with sleep apnea are likely to suffer from health conditions including depression, hypertension and heart disease.
The most common apnea type is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of sleep apnea is characterized by an obstruction in the throat. The upper airway becomes narrowed. This can be caused by a number of factors including excess weight, inherent physical characteristics, and consumption of alcohol right before going to sleep. Another type of apnea is central sleep apnea. This sleep apnea syndrome is characterized by a delay in the signal coming from the brain to breathe. Both sleep apnea syndromes cause the sufferer to wake up briefly in order to breathe. These awakenings can occur over a hundred times during the night, with the sufferer having no memory of those awakenings.
Loud snoring, excessive sleepiness during the day, headaches, night sweats, awakening at night with a choking feeling, frequent bathroom trips, insomnia, and problems staying asleep are the most common symptoms observed in people who have sleep apnea syndrome. Sleep apnea syndrome may also be accompanied by a number of health conditions such as depression, hypertension, reduced sexual drive and difficulty concentrating.
Severe sleep apnea can be life threatening; thus, it requires immediate medical attention. One type of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea, can increase the risk of irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, strokes and heart disease. This particularly sleep apnea syndrome can also cause extreme sleepiness during the day, resulting in accidents, low or lost productivity at work, and relationship problems.
Sleep apnea symptoms can range from mild to severe. To diagnose the condition, a sleep test known as polysomnography is performed. Patients diagnosed with mild sleep apnea syndrome are typically treated by behavioral modification. They are advised to lose weight or sleep on their side. Some are prescribed mouth devices in order to keep the upper airway open during sleep. These devices bring the jaw forward to elevate the soft palate or prevent the tongue from falling back into the airway during sleep and blocking the breathing.
Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea syndrome are prescribed the use of a CPAP mask hooked to a CPAP machine. The mask is held firmly over the nose during sleep while the machine blows air into the nose, generating positive air pressure to keep the airway open. Sleep apnea can also be the result of facial deformities and for such patients, there are surgical procedures available to correct the problem. Surgical procedures may involve removing excess tissue in order to clear the airway, pulling the tongue forward, and moving the upper jaw and lower jaw forward.
One important fact about sleep apnea syndrome is that it’s progressive; it becomes worse as you grow older. This is why a snoring problem should not be easily dismissed. It may actually be a symptom of a more serious sleeping disorder. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea syndrome, realize that lifestyle changes must accompany your doctor-prescribed treatments. Work towards losing weight, and cut back on your caffeine and alcohol consumption.