Sleep apnea is the unnamed malady that people often blamed for their sleep problems back in the days. They don’t really know what it’s called except for the loud snoring that makes sleeping impossible especially for their poor spouses or partners. A lot has changed now through technology’s help. Technology helped medical practitioners identify different medical conditions and the appropriate treatment for it too.
On the other hand, technology has also put almost everyone at risk of sleep deprivation because of the Internet, social media, and games/apps that are so addicting. When you add a common sleep disorder like sleep apnea in the equation, then you can finally say goodbye to a good night’s sleep and welcome yourself to the world of modern-day zombies.
Nighttime can be exhausting for the 22 million Americans with sleep apnea, a disorder marked by frequent interruptions in breathing. The condition leaves people not only chronically tired but also at greater risk for diabetes, stroke, heart disease and memory loss.
“Sleep apnea is a nighttime disorder with major daytime health consequences,” says sleep specialist Steven Scharf, a clinical professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the Sleep Disorders Center. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.”
It no longer comes as a surprise that roughly 80% of Americans have sleep apnea but they remain unaware of it. It is a condition common among men but affects women just the same. People often complain about the loud snoring but it is actually the breathing pauses during sleep that is deadlier and can possibly kill a person in his or her sleep.
We all like to believe we don’t snore and get defensive when we’re accused of it—who, me? No way, never. But snoring is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, a serious condition that you definitely shouldn’t just brush off and ignore.
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes you to stop and start breathing repeatedly throughout the night. For most people, sleep apnea is caused by “some sort of obstruction in airflow in the back of the throat which blocks air from getting into the lungs as you sleep,” Joseph Ojile, M.D., medical director of the Clayton Sleep Institute, tells SELF. This could be due to large tonsils, congested sinuses, or a variety of other factors. In rare cases, it can be caused by a problem in signaling, so that your brain doesn’t send the message to breathe correctly.
Sleep apnea is a serious health condition. It will not go away on its own, so better address the sleep apnea now or put yourself at higher risk of certain medical conditions later in life.
Untreated sleep apnea can, over the years, contribute to chronic disease like type 2 diabetes and heart disease, so getting a proper diagnosis is important for your long-term health. Here are the top symptoms of sleep apnea you need to know.
You’re exhausted all day despite getting plenty of sleep.
You wake up with headaches.
You wake yourself up gasping or choking.
Your bed partner says you snore, choke, gasp—or stop breathing—when you sleep.
You have high blood pressure.
You experience heart palpitations, “fluttering” in your chest, or your heart is pounding for no apparent reason.
You have high blood sugar.
You have insomnia.
Your mood is all over the place.
A sleep doctor can help you understand what your condition is and what can be done to help you overcome the symptoms of sleep apnea. These breathing pauses in your sleep are deadly and warrant urgent medical attention, so there’s no sense in putting off a medical appointment any longer. Getting tested at a sleep clinic can help a lot and give the doctor and you a lot of insight as to the severity of your condition.
Medical treatments like CPAP is a conventional treatment but other more convenient remedies like anti-snoring gadgets and mouthpieces also work in reducing the snoring as well as the deadly breathing pauses. You’d be surprised at how much some lifestyle changes can make a difference in your life and address sleep apnea in the process. For severe conditions, surgery is also an option although it should be the last on your list.