Sleep apnea is a common, yet serious sleep disorder that can cause severe complications. Someone with sleep apnea has an interruption in their breathing during sleep. When it goes untreated, they may stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, each time putting them at severe fatal risk. Every time they stop breathing, the brain and rest of the body isn’t getting a sufficient amount of oxygen. It is extremely important than someone with sleep apnea get treatment for it as soon as possible.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two main types of sleep apnea; obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea and is caused by a blockage of the airway. This usually occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses while the person sleeps. Central sleep apnea, on the other hand, is less common and doesn’t involve a blocked airway. With central sleep apnea, the person’s brain is failing to signal the muscles to breathe properly, usually from an issue with the respiratory control center.
Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea
There isn’t a known reason why some people get sleep apnea and others don’t, but there are a variety of risk factors. First, it is important to note that sleep apnea can occur with someone of any age, including young children. The common risk factors for sleep apnea include being over the age of 40, being overweight, being male, having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone, having family members with sleep apnea, having a neck size larger than 17 inches if you’re a man or larger than 16 inches if you’re a woman, having gastroesophageal reflux, sinus problems, allergies, or a nasal obstruction from a deviated septum.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Aside from not breathing while you sleep, which you may not notice, there are other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea. This includes having high blood pressure, heart failure, a history of irregular heartbeat or heart attacks, diabetes, stroke, depression, or ADHD that seems to be getting worse. You might notice fatigue during the day, waking up with headaches, restless sleep, irritability, or insomnia. Without proper treatment, you may notice behavioral, emotional, and psychological changes from the lack of oxygen sent to your brain during the times when you stop breathing.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is to have a sleep study, also called a polysomnogram. This will monitor your physical and brain activity while you sleep. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you will most likely need to use a breathing machine to ensure your safety with the medical condition.