Sleep Apnea: Reasons Why You Should Take It Seriously

Even though there’s not much information about this condition, a significant number of people suffer from this disorder. Imagine you are experiencing a worrisome condition that, even though it can be treated, you don’t know much about. 

Sleep apnea is a nap disorder that entails recurrent respiratory stops and starts. A deep snore and unexplainable fatigue accompany the condition, preventing you from having a restful sleep throughout the night. Therefore, if such happens to you, there’s a higher probability that you are suffering from sleeping apnea. Thus, you need to carry out a sleep apnea test.

Now imagine if you already know what has been compelling you through sleepless nights. What else can hinder you from seeking remedies to cure this condition once and for all? Controlling, preventing, and treating sleep apneas is much simpler than you might think. Below, you can find some crucial aspects of this disorder that you probably didn’t know.

Essential Aspects of Sleep Apnea Definition You Shouldn’t Miss Out

Now that you’ve understood what is sleep apnea, it is crucial to learn how this disorder starts and its various forms. It appears mostly in two ways. In the first way, while you are asleep, your upper airways get entirely or partially blocked. Secondly, the respiratory drives get compelled to cease functioning during sleep, thus, resulting in a halted respiratory movement.

These two conditions are the result of obstructive sleep apnea that forces one to snore due to the difficulty of air circulation past the upper airways, causing central sleep apnea. In the latter case, the brain doesn’t send breathing impulses to the muscles. Thus, an individual experiences a regular breathing disruption throughout the sleep. This disorder exists in two forms that I will cover below, namely:

  • Obstructive apnea;
  • Central apnea.

The Most Susceptible Causes of Sleep Apnea You Shouldn’t Take Lightly

Did you know that the collapse and blockage of airways in the human respiratory system is the fundamental cause of sleep apnea? Here’s detailed information on what causes each type of disorder so that you could take care of your health.

Red-haired woman sleeping on a white sheets

The Causes of Obstructive Apnea

Now that you have a glimpse of this condition, it is crucial to know in detail what causes sleep apnea of this type. It is a disorder that comes as a result of dwindled oxygen supply in the blood, and as such, a sleeper can suffer recurrent instances of brief awakenings during the night.

However, the prospective causes of this condition vary from one age group to the other. For example, adults may experience it as a result of obesity and excess weight. The changes that occur because of the weight gain and obesity hamper the normal functioning of the throat and mouth soft tissues.

It happens during deep night sleep when the muscle at the back of your throat relaxes, causing the soft tissues to block the airways. In turn, the airways narrow and prevent air passage as you breathe. It reduces the consistent supply of fresh air and results in a lower oxygen level in blood. 

When it happens, the brain detects the breathing difficulty and rouses one lightly from sleep to reopen airways. The awakening is always brief, thus, can hardly be acknowledged by a person. Therefore, during sleep, you can find yourself choking, gasping, or even snorting every 5-30 mins throughout your sleep. The concurrent awakening impairs an individual’s ability to reach a restful and deep phase of sleep.

In kids, this disorder can appear as a result of enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Moreover, an overbite is one of the risk factors that provoke sleep apnea childhood. In other rare instances, congenital disabilities such as Pierre Robin and Down syndromes, are among the causal agents. For example, in Down syndrome, there’s a compelled enlargement of tonsils, adenoids, and the tongue. These factors decrease the muscle tone in the upper airways, obstructing breathing.

Risk Factors for Obstructive Apnea in Both Adults and Kids

  • Excessive weight – Fat deposits along the upper airways and can easily hamper your smooth breathing ability.
  • Neck circumference – Individuals with thick neck have reduced airways. Tonsils, adenoids, and a narrow throat can easily obstruct the airways.
  • Age – This condition is prone to be experienced by senior citizens rather than younger people.
  • Male – Men are more likely to suffer from obstructive apnea. However, women can also expose themselves to the risk if they become less cautious about their weight.
  • Allergies – Allergies may cause nasal congestion that may hamper smooth breathing through the nose.
  • Family history – You are at risk of experiencing this condition if one of your family members once suffered from the disorder.
  • Alcohol drinking – Such drinks relax the throat muscles, which further may block the airways due to the expansion of soft tissues in the throat and mouth.
  • Smoking – This lifestyle habit increases water retention and swelling intensity on the upper airways. Hence, smokers are three times more prone to the condition than non-smokers.

Understanding Central Sleep Apnea

Even though this type of apnea is less common, it occurs when an individual’s brain stops transmitting the sensory impulse to the respiratory muscles. Hence, you make minimal effort to breathe for a short period during sleep. As a result, you may get frequently awaken due to short of breath or can have a tough time falling asleep.

Central Apnea Risk Factors in Both Adults and Children

  • Age – Older and middle-aged individuals are more prone to central apnea.
  • Gender – The disorder is more common in males than in females. Thus, men are more likely to suffer from this condition.
  • Heard disorder – An individual with congestive heart failure is more likely to experience central apnea.
  • Opioid medication users – Long-acting narcotic pain reliever users, for example, the ones using methadone, are susceptible to this disorder.
  • Stroke – It increases your chances of experiencing a central apnea condition.

Therefore, in case you’ve been exposed to such risk factors, I recommend taking an apnea sleep test to rule out your health status. Early detection of sleep apnea will help you to boost health. This way, you will be able to prevent the condition from worsening and developing into high rate mortality diseases, such as heart diseases.

Sleeping Apnea Symptoms to Remember

A person with this condition can hardly notice his or her symptoms of sleep apnea. However, another person sleeping next to the victim may identify a series of sudden gasp, grunts, and breath stops that briefly awakens the sleeper from time to time.

However, the most common sleep apnea symptom is daytime sleepiness brought about by recurrent instances of interrupted sleep throughout the night.

Additionally, there are supplementary sleep apnea symptoms that you should give a serious consideration once experienced:

  • Insomnia;
  • Loud sleeping snore;
  • The frequently awakening urinating urge throughout the night;
  • Heartburn and irritability;
  • Erectile dysfunction and low libido in males;
  • Awakening with sore throat or dry mouth;
  • Morning headache;
  • Reduced concentration.

If you experience any of the signs of sleep apnea mentioned above, do not hesitate to consult your doctor and run a test sleep apnea at home without worries. Even though obstructive and central sleep apnea symptoms do vary, they share most characteristics that you shouldn’t ignore at any cost.

Implications of this Condition on Human Body and Overall Health

Even though many people suffering from this condition may consider it not crucial to take care of, they are wrong. After running a sleeping apnea test, it is important to start taking the medication and treatment process as soon as possible. If this disorder is untreated, it can create a susceptible environment for the breeding of other diseases that may put your health at risk. Below are some of the adverse effects of untreated apnea conditions on the human body to know.

💤 The Body Respiratory System’s Functionality

Sleep apnea deprives the body of enough oxygen while you are asleep. It can even cause adverse asthma symptoms and put you at risk of further asthma complications that can completely block your airways, leading to breathing inability that may turn tragic. Moreover, this disorder can also cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease that may impose you on recurrent instances of short breath.

💤 The Endocrine System Normal Operation

Individuals suffering from this condition are more likely to develop insulin resistance. It is a disorder that entails a lack of proper cell response to the hormonal insulin. Insulin resistance can result in the blockage of insulin-cell take-up, thus, leading to a rise of glucose level in blood.

High blood sugar levels may provide a conducive environment for type 2 diabetes that may keep an individual’s life at risk. Also, sleep apnea may make your diabetes even more complex to manage. Therefore, in the case of blocked insulin-cell take-up, it is necessary to do an apnea sleep test.

💤 The Digestive System Reliable Functionality

This condition increases the likeliness of having fatty liver disease, abnormal levels of liver enzymes, and liver scarring. Moreover, this sleeping disorder may worsen heartburn and other illnesses, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, that can interrupt one’s sleeping time even more.

💤 Cardiovascular and Circulatory System Normal Operation

This kind of sleep disorder is highly linked and responsible for high blood pressure and obesity, which puts a lot of strain on an individual’s heart. For instance, atrial fibrillation and abnormal heart rhythm happen mostly to people suffering from sleep disorders. It increases their risks of stroke and heart failure. Sleep apnea weakens body immunity, leaving it open for other infections that may be of high mortality if not treated on time.

💤 Nervous System Proper Functionality

Central apnea disorder is caused by the inability of the brain that can’t send proper signals to the muscle at the back of your throat. It is the brain that commands adequate breathing while you are asleep. This disorder can cause a wide range of neurological conditions, such as tingling or even numbness. Moreover, it may lead to a lack of memory consolidation and mental confusion.

💤 Reproductive System Proper Operation

This sleep disorder substantially interferes with the human sex drive. For instance, in women, it can significantly reduce their sex desire. On the other hand, men can face the risk of erectile dysfunction. However, to prevent this condition from getting worse, seeking sleeping apnea treatment is essential.

Potential Sleep Apnea Treatments to Keep Your Health in Good Shape

People suffering from mild and severe sleep disorders should seek sleep apnea treatment to prevent further complications. The worse condition may provide a susceptible environment for other diseases, for example, high blood pressure, or heart disease. However, other than medical processes, there are home remedies that act as sleep apnea treatment options. You can take the recommendations below into consideration to deal with a mild sleep disorder of this kind.

Inspiration Sleep Apnea Home Remedies to Prevent and Treat the Condition

Young woman sleeps in a black mask for sleeping

There are a lot of natural remedies that one can use to deal with mild instances of sleep apnea. Here are some tips that will help you to prevent or improve the condition.

Using Weight Loss Techniques

“What is apnea sleep remedy if I’m overweight?” Excess fats around one’s neck can prospectively impair your breathing pattern, thus, worsening the apnea condition. Therefore, losing excess weight can be a stepping stone in the process of treating this sleep disorder. I recommend engaging in regular physical exercises for at least 30 minutes per day at the same time and reduce high sugar beverage consumption.

Health-Wise Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle can determine the intensity of the disorder and, at the same time, even suppress it. Making lifestyle changes, for instance, refraining from risk-prone activities such as smoking and alcohol drinking, will alleviate your suffering from sleep apnea.

Adjust the Head Position of the Bed

Raising the head off the bed at a 60-degree angle is helpful because such a position reduces instances of recurrent apnea episodes during the night. Thus, this hint is effective for people who suffer from this disorder when they sleep on their backs and find it difficult to sleep on either side. You will notice reduced instances of the disorder episodes when using sleep pillow apnea. It can help you to achieve a recommended head position.

Using humidifiers

Humidifier and essential oils

A humidifier is a device that adds a substantial amount of moisture into the air. Therefore, the incorporation of such a tool can help in boosting the functionality of the respiratory system. Dry air has adverse impacts on the body and the respiratory system at large. Therefore, using the air moisturizers can help significantly in opening an individual’s airways, easing congestion, and rejuvenating the respiratory process to encourage clear breathing.

For more health benefits, you can add peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus oil into the humidifier. However, you need to be extra careful when it comes to cleaning the device to avoid its faultiness.

Adopting the Side Sleeping Position

One universal home remedy for this sleep disorder is to start using a body positioning pillow or device sleep apnea, offering the same function. Such items play a significant role in keeping a sleeper in the right position without rolling back and lying on the back. An individual suffering from obstructive sleep apnea is more likely to experience recurrent episodes of this condition if he or she sleeps on the back.

Wearing a side sleeping backpack in bed can prevent an individual from turning and sleeping on his or her back. Hence, it helps in the maintenance of side sleeping posture that reduces instances of apnea episodes throughout the night.

Medical Processes and the Comprehensive Treatments for Sleep Apnea

An adverse apnea condition must be treated early enough to allow proper healing and recovery. Medical treatments can help in keeping other high-mortality diseases, such as heart failure, from manipulating your body. Here are some of the medical solutions for treating and managing sleep apnea.

Using a CPAP Sleep Apnea Machine

Doctors usually treat the obstructive condition using an apnea sleep mask with a continuous positive airway pressure machine that pumps air to an individual’s mouth and nose. The mask for sleeping apnea creates high pressure, which gently blows air into one’s airways, keeping them open throughout the night. It helps to maintain the respiratory system working ability, and the brain and breathing muscles keep cooperating thanks to such tools as sleep apnea masks.

Removing Vestigial Tissues from the Upper Airways

Since vestigial tissue is what cause sleep apnea, some people resort to removing them from the airways to trigger proper breathing during sleep. Thus, individuals who find it difficult to wear a sleep apnea mask opt for contacting sleep apnea surgeons to remove tissues from the airways, therefore, ensuring smooth and non-stop breathing. The surgical process can help you to deal with sleep apnea if you can’t use the CPAP machine.

Moreover, doctors can utilize some mandibular advancement techniques to prevent instances of apnea. For example, they can insert a special device in one’s mouth during sleep to provide an open space in the airways pushing the lower jawbone for normal breathing and night rest. But before opting for any operation, you should consult with your sleep apnea surgery physician to find out the best option for curing your condition.

Using Sleep Medicines

Using sleep medicines is a relatively new method of dealing with sleep apnea condition. However, you need to consult with your doctor to get the right prescription and advice when to use the drugs. For instance, when you run an ICD 10 sleep apnea diagnosis test, and obstructive sleep disorder is confirmed, adopting the sleep medicine in-take before sleep becomes necessary.

However, every physician would advise you not to use sleep medicines frequently. You can intake them at intervals following intense episodes of awakening that leave you almost sleepless the whole night.

Frequently Asked Questions about Sleep Apnea

People ask many questions regarding sleep apnea and its specifics. I have provided brief answers to the most common concerns regarding this condition.

The disorder is caused by blockage of the airways. It can be a result of muscular changes, brain dysfunction, or physical blockage.

The condition causes sleep deprivation, as well as disturbed sleep.

Yes. Sleeping on the back worsens apnea sleep symptoms, and side sleeping makes the condition better. When you sleep on the back, the tongue relaxes and falls back, thus, blocking the airways.

Yes. Smoking can lead to increased mucus congestion in the airways, thus, hindering smooth breathing. Also, the nicotine can disturb sleep architecture and worsen the apnea condition.

Yes. Snoring is among the noticeable symptoms of this condition. The snoring as a result of apnea is loud and punctuated with moments of silence. Thus, you should undergo sleep apnea tests if you snore loudly while sleeping.

Make Sure to Treat Your Sleep Apnea

Even though the sleep apnea condition disrupts your sleep and puts you at risk of developing other high-mortality diseases, the good news is that it can be treated. In case you have a symptom of sleep apnea, stress no more. Consult your doctor, do sleep apnea testing, and commence treatment early enough before the condition impairs your body system. 

Early diagnosis helps in the formulation of counter processes to recover one’s health. Thus, early treatment helps an individual to avoid worsening of sleep apnea, resulting in high-mortality diseases, such as high blood pressure and heart failure that may turn fatal if not dealt with at the preliminary stage. 

What’s more, once you are under treatment, the instances of uneasy sleep encompassed with snorting, snoring, and even brief awakenings will be dealt with once and for all. Don’t suffer from sleep apnea that prevents you from reaching the restful phase of sleep, as it can be treated. 

I hope that the information on the sleep apnea disorder provided here helped you to learn how to prevent, control, and treat this condition. Have you ever suffered from any form of sleep apnea? How did you find out about it? What was the most effective remedy you used? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.

foto of Catherine Rodgers

I am a certified therapist. The area of my study includes sleep medicine as well. I’ve chosen this field of research not by chance. For years I’ve suffered from insomnia, and have been trying various medicines, including sleeping techniques, natural remedies, and even hypnosis. According to my observations, the quality of sleep depends on numerous external and internal factors that may seem irrelevant at first sight.

Catherine Rodgers

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