Obstructive sleep apnea is a common disorder that can lead to life-threatening diseases if left unchecked. Although many people pass it off as snoring, it can pose many risk factors in the long run. Therefore, you must know how to identify the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Being informed on how to identify sleep apnea symptoms and why it’s important to get a diagnosis is vital for a quick recovery from the disease. Curing this sleep disorder can help patients improve their sleep quality significantly.
Although consulting a sleep specialist is ideal for knowing whether you have obstructive sleep apnea or similar sleep disorders, a consultation can be quite expensive. Thankfully, you can also identify the symptoms yourself through consultation.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a health condition that gets triggered when a person is sleeping. It causes their breathing to sleep, causing them to wake up briefly constantly to resume respiration. Therefore, it prevents their body from getting necessary rest.
Primarily, sleep apnea is of two types; obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea. OSA causes the airway to experience blockage, causing constant interruptions in sleep.
Severe obstructive sleep apnea can lead to people being unable to sleep for even an hour properly. It cuts off the body’s continuous positive airway pressure, causing their survival reflexes to wake them up to resume breathing constantly.
While obstructive sleep apnea affects the body’s respiratory system, central sleep apnea directly influences your brain’s functions. This variation’s risk factors to the human body tend to be much more lethal.
A quick diagnosis and treatment are necessary if you have central sleep apnea, as it can cause long-term damage to your body. In fact, a quick fix for either variation is the best option, as they both obstruct your body’s ability to get a full night’s sleep.
Untreated sleep apnea constantly messes with your sleep cycle. When a person stops breathing during sleep, they constantly wake up, resulting in poor-quality sleep. Thus, a quick recovery helps you fall asleep faster and improve your breathing patterns.
How to Identify Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
Identifying sleep apnea is relatively easy since you must monitor your productivity and mental state. Below are the key indicators of this health condition to help you quickly take notice and save yourself from severe complications to your health.
Among all the different indicators of sleep apnea, the most telltale sign that you have this disease is a constant feeling of exhaustion. People suffering from mild obstructive sleep apnea may feel tired even after sleeping the entire night.
Feeling exhausted all the time is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea, alongside loud snoring. It typically means that your body is failing to complete all the sleep stages, resulting in you experiencing restless sleep.
Sleepiness Throughout the Day
A common issue most sleep apnea patients experience is sleepiness throughout the day. This health condition horribly affects their productivity. Those suffering from severe central sleep apnea (CSA) often face difficulties completing basic daily tasks.
Excessive daytime sleepiness can lead to patients falling asleep during odd hours in the day. It can especially be dangerous if you have to operate heavy machinery or drive daily. It makes you more prone to accidents and causes severe complications to your health.
Although many people prefer to consume sleeping pills to ensure healthy sleep and eliminate daytime sleepiness, it’s highly inadvisable to do so. It’s better to visit a sleep center and conduct a sleep study to see if you have sleep apnea.
Both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea can bring about changes to a person’s physical and mental reactions. Loud snoring is the most common symptom in this regard. Having a bed partner is the best way to identify it quickly.
Sleep apnea can often lead to a person’s mental health deteriorating significantly. Depression and bouts of anxiety are common byproducts of this health condition. A sleep study session and quickly treating sleep apnea is more economically feasible than spending hours in therapy in this regard.
Interruptions While Sleeping
The easiest way to detect sleep apnea is by observing whether you’re frequently experiencing interruptions in your sleep. Moderate sleep apnea patients often wake up multiple times in the middle of the night.
People with sleep apnea often face sleep interruptions due to sleep-disordered breathing. Therefore, it’s best to diagnose sleep apnea as soon as possible. Letting it fester can affect your blood oxygen levels since it automatically causes your body to stop breathing when asleep.
A major reason why you might wake up often while sleeping is due to your breathing patterns. People with sleep apnea suffer from irregular breathing while asleep due to a lack of upper airway stimulation. This issue can be more intense if the person suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.
How to Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is primarily diagnosed through two methods. Below are the details to help you determine which one will be the most feasible for you.
Typically, home testing is the best option for those who do not have the time or can’t afford to visit the sleep center or consult for an overnight sleep study. It’s meant to provide a comfortable diagnosis by observing your sleep pattern.
Although it’s not a viable option for detecting sleep apnea or the more severe variants of this health condition, it’s perfect for diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea. It’s also practical for finding out other variants in its mild stage.
Home testing involves having your bed partner observe you while sleeping and keep a lookout for loud snores, sleeping patterns, and muscle movements. It’s perfect if you want to prevent sleep apnea in its early stages and save yourself from experiencing breathing problems and other serious complications.
Overnight Sleep Study
This variation of sleep apnea diagnosis is ideal for those who are suffering from central sleep apnea or other variations in a severe stage. It involves the person sleeping overnight at a sleep lab while specialists observe your movements and sleeping behavior.
Sleep centers are more well-equipped for detecting sleep apnea due to the presence of medical experts and professional equipment. The diagnosis mainly involves sensors scouring your body for fluctuations in blood pressure, movement in breathing muscles, and monitoring your heart rate.
An overnight sleep study is a thorough diagnosis since it helps detect sleep apnea and other adjoining issues like high blood pressure and unusual blood oxygen levels. Furthermore, it also observes breathing interruptions to determine the severity of sleep apnea.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea?
Multiple treatment options allow people to recover from sleep apnea. Approaches vary depending on the severity of the health condition. Below are some of the most popular methods for healing sleep apnea.
One of the primary and most effective treatment options for sleep apnea is the one that does not require medication. Bringing forth specific lifestyle changes can completely eliminate it or reduce it to a point where symptoms don’t show up.
Weight loss is one of the most effective conservative treatment options. It’s no secret that overweight people are more prone to obstructive sleep apnea. Therefore, dieting to relieve excess weight can be a valuable solution.
Many people often suffer from obstructive sleep apnea due to having a habit of sleeping on their backs. Using a support pillow can help you maintain continuous positive airway pressure while you sleep, letting your throat relax.
Alongside lifestyle changes, some over-the-counter items can help relieve mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Nasal sprays can help maintain positive airway pressure and prevent you from experiencing poor sleep.
Heart issues can often indirectly cause sleep apnea. Therefore, getting the necessary treatment for any existing heart condition can cure sleep apnea and prevent fatal health attacks like congestive heart failure.
Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) treatment is an approach that helps boost air pressure in the patient’s lungs while they sleep through a device. It’s ideal for treating both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
PAP devices help maintain continuous positive airway pressure in the patient’s lungs, allowing them to sleep peacefully throughout the night. The increase in air pressure prevents the tissues next to the airway from closing, alleviating sleep apnea to a great extent.
A couple of oral appliances are available nowadays to help your throat muscles relax and significantly eliminate the chances of obstructive sleep apnea. It relieves the pressure that soft tissues in the mouth can inflict on the patient’s jaw, letting them sleep peacefully.
Many sleep apnea patients prefer sleep medicine over oral appliances since they are easily available. However, the latter is more effective in providing a more permanent solution by completely eliminating the health condition.
One of the major muscles responsible for causing sleep apnea is the tongue. Tongue stimulants influence the movement of this part, causing it to be pushed forward while the patient sleeps.
Using this device can be a difficult feat for many. It involves connecting an electrode to your jaw and attaching it to a device that will have to be implanted within the patient’s skin. This method is also uncomfortable as patients would often wake up experiencing dry mouth.
Conducting surgery on a person’s mouth and throat is probably the most definitive solution to sleep apnea. Most of these surgeries focus on removing certain parts of the face and neck to improve a person’s breathing abilities while asleep.
Somnoplasty is the most common form of sleep apnea surgery. It focuses on relieving pressure from the windpipe by reducing soft tissues around that part. Tonsillectomy is another option if the patient suffers from enlarged tonsils.
Alternatives to parts removal are surgeries that strive to realign certain parts of your body. Many doctors conduct jaw surgery to prevent soft tissues from applying pressure on the windpipe. On the other hand, nasal surgery is effective for straightening nose tissues for a clearer airway.
Central Sleep Apnea Medicines
Central sleep apnea is the most harmful variant of sleep apnea due to its impact on the patient’s brain. You can take a couple of medicines to cure it alongside nerve stimulators and airway pressure.
Among these medicines, the most noticeable ones focus on stimulating the patient’s respiration. Other than that, some medicines are also effective in inducing sleep.
However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when taking such medicines for curing sleep apnea. None of these doctors formally approve them. Therefore, there’s a high chance that you may end up experiencing side effects.
How to Help in Diagnosing Sleep Apnea?
If you believe anyone in your family is suffering from sleep apnea, then there are a couple of things you can do to help medical providers diagnose it. Most of them are observational studies that can help compile patient data.
You can conduct a sleep study by yourself to see if your loved one has sleep apnea. This process includes recording them while they sleep to monitor their body functions. Furthermore, you can also check their family history for sleep apnea.
Many people start panicking and assuming the worst when they initially suspect obstructive sleep apnea. However, starting quick treatment can help you combat this health condition swiftly and efficiently.
Therefore, it’s vital to know how to identify sleep apnea symptoms and why it’s important to get a diagnosis. Anything from facing trouble concentrating at work to experiencing high blood pressure can be a sign that you may have this health condition.
Therefore, it’s best to head to a sleep center or conduct studies at home when you start feeling tired, even after a full night’s sleep. A quick diagnosis will lead to a quick recovery and ensure you lead a healthier, well-rested life.