Sleep Apnea: Types, Causes and Treatments


sleep apnea causes

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that often deprives those who have it from receiving proper rest. It typically wakes an individual from their slumber due to a decrease in breathing or the complete cessation of it. The reduction or stoppage of breath only lasts for a short period of time (usually 10 seconds or more) but is enough to awaken the afflicted person from their sleeping state.

What Should You Learn About Sleep Apnea?

If you think that you might have sleep apnea, it’s important to learn more about this condition.  It might seem harmless enough – especially since you might not be noticing any symptoms, particularly when it’s mild or you’ve felt rested after using a sleep supplement – but it can actually cause more damage to your health and quality of life than you realize.

This condition is quite common, and it can lead to symptoms that can take years to track down.  Since many of the symptoms are intermittent or cross over with lots of other types of health condition, it can be very difficult to pinpoint their source unless you look directly at sleep apnea and whether you have it.

If you have several of the risk factors, if you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, or even if your fitness tracker is showing signs that you might have issues with your overnight breathing, it’s definitely worth checking out.

There are two types

  1. Central sleep apnea (CSA) – occurs due to the abnormal functioning of a mechanism in the brain that regulates breathing.
  2. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – the most common type caused by a blockage of the upper airway.

An individual may have either CSA or OSA or could even experience a combination of both types. Although the causes for each form of apnea may be different, both result in periodical reduced breathing and/or the complete cessation of breathing during sleep.

Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

The following is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.  This isn’t a complete list, as the symptoms are broad and far-reaching. That said, it is meant to help you to identify some of the most common ones so that you can investigate further if you suspect you might have this condition.

  • Chronic snoring that is notably loud
  • Snorting, choking or gasping while asleep
  • Insomnia
  • Waking up with headaches, dry throat, stuffy nose, chest pains or shortness of breath
  • Feeling very sleepy and exhausted in the daytime
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Low attention span and reduced concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Poor work performance
  • Easily irritable

There are different treatment options for sleep apnea and usually a combination of treatments is prescribed to provide relief and alleviate symptoms.

Common Treatments

The following are some of the treatments most frequently recommended for sleep apnea patients. Consult with your doctor before making any big lifestyle changes.

  • Exercising and losing weight
  • Sleeping on the side as opposed to the front or back
  • Avoid eating and drinking stimulating or alcoholic beverages before bed
  • Quitting smoking
  • Good sleep hygiene
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) – a medical device that is not unlike a mask which provides a steady flow of air during sleep.
  • Medication
  • Surgery

It is important for anyone who believes they may suffer from sleep apnea to be tested for this condition to receive a proper diagnosis. If left untreated, this disorder may not only disrupt sleep and cause insomnia but may contribute to other health problems such as heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. In extreme cases it can even be life threatening. Therefore, this medical condition needs to be taken very seriously and addressed as soon as possible.

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