What are the daytime symptoms of sleep apnea?

Learn about sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where your airways narrow or close. It interrupts your breathing and causes apneas. Obstructive sleep apnea is common, and often people don’t know they have it. Central sleep apnea is less common and occurs when the brain does not send signals to breathe during sleep. 

Both types of sleep apnea share symptoms. And a sleep specialist may prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or other sleep apnea solutions to treat sleep apnea. Mild sleep apnea may not require treatment. But moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea may need to be monitored with a sleep study. People with sleep apnea may experience daytime sleepiness. And obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome can be associated with more severe cases.

Key Facts

  • Sleep apnea is a common condition that is becoming more widespread.
  • About 10 to 30% of adults in the U.S. may have sleep apnea. Your risk increases with age and weight.
  • Because sleep is interrupted, people with sleep apnea usually are sleepy during the day and sometimes feel irritable, forgetful, unable to concentrate or less alert.
  • Sleep apnea is associated with developing a spectrum of ailments.
  • Motor vehicle accidents are at least twice as likely to happen when people with sleep apnea are behind the wheel. When the disorder is treated, this increased risk disappears.
sleep apnea

How Sleep Disorder Affects Your Body

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when the muscles and soft tissues at the back of the throat relax too much. This causes the tissues and collapses during sleep, blocking the airway and causing interrupted breathing. This results in a drop in oxygen levels in the blood. And prompts the brain to briefly wake and resume breathing. 

This cycle repeats throughout the night and often goes unnoticed. People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) experience this. But central sleep apnea (CSA) involves the brain not sending proper signals to the breathing muscles. 

Severe OSA and moderate OSA are the most common forms of sleep apnea. Treatment for OSA includes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), lifestyle changes, and medications. 

A sleep specialist can provide a sleep study to diagnose sleep disorders and advise on the best way to treat sleep apnea. Symptoms of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness and loud snoring. And if left untreated, can lead to serious health consequences.

Mild Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can cause daytime sleepiness, forgetfulness, and irritability. People with OSA may feel as if they haven’t slept, even if they sleep for 7-9 hours. This is because OSA can cause frequent waking. In addition to drowsiness, OSA may make concentration, memory and mental clarity difficult. In children, OSA can cause hyperactivity instead of sleepiness. 

Risk factors for OSA include loud snoring, being overweight, and having high blood pressure. Treatment can include positive airway pressure, lifestyle changes, and oral appliances. Untreated OSA can lead to more serious health issues. So, it is important to diagnose and treat OSA.

Sleep Apnea Affects

Sleep Apnea occurs when someone falls asleep and has episodes of stopped breathing, loud snoring, and other sleep disordered breathing. It can be mild or severe and is usually diagnosed with a sleep study. 

If left untreated, it can lead to serious detriments.

Risk factors for Sleep Apnea include obesity, age, gender, and neck size. Treatment usually involves Positive Airway Pressure (PAP). PAP is a device that provides air pressure to keep the airway open. Treatment emergent central sleep apnea is also an option for sleep apnea patients. It is important to diagnose and treat sleep apnea to avoid the serious potential consequences.

Who Is at Risk?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that can have serious implications for your health. Anything that narrows your upper airway can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea. Causes can include naturally small throat, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, obesity, and some chronic lung diseases. How is sleep related to your overall health? 

Poor sleep can lead to high blood pressure, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and poor oxygen levels in your blood. Sleep apnea can be prevented by losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, and using oral appliances and bilevel positive airway pressure to maintain your oxygen levels. 

If left untreated, sleep apnea can worsen and lead to daytime fatigue and other diseases. Clinical sleep medicine can help diagnose and treat your sleep apnea, so you can get healthy sleep and prevent further health problems. 

Obesity is the most common risk factor for sleep apnoea

Obesity is the most common risk factor for sleep apnoea, as fatty tissue in the breathing passage reduces the space for air to pass through. This makes it easier for the breathing passage to collapse while sleeping. However, even people who are not overweight can have sleep apnoea. 

Other risk factors include upper airway muscles, soft palate, narrowed airway, snoring loudly and metabolic syndrome. Symptoms include restless sleep, trouble concentrating and emergent central sleep apnea. Treatment usually involves airway pressure devices, such as oral appliances and other devices to increase air pressure. 

Weight loss can also help improve breathing and oxygen levels, as well as reducing the risk of other sleep disorders, such as atrial fibrillation and central apnea. Normal sleep can be restored with the use of these airway pressure devices, allowing the person to concentrate and function better during the day.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep. It is more frequent in adults as they age, from young adulthood to the 60s and 70s.

Final thoughts

 Men have a two to three times higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea, compared to premenopausal women, while postmenopausal women have a similar risk as men. Treating sleep apnea can be done with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and other therapies. Severe sleep apnea is treated by a sleep specialist and people with mild or moderate apnea can be treated with lifestyle changes. A sleep study is recommended for those who have daytime sleepiness. 

If you have sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor. They may suggest you have a sleep study done to diagnose obstructive, central, or mixed sleep apnea. Treatment for mild, moderate, and severe obstructive sleep apnea might include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), lifestyle changes, and other therapies. 

Severe obstructive sleep apnea may also require surgery. People with central sleep apnea may need other treatments, such as oxygen therapy. A sleep specialist can help you treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

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