Sleep Apnea Symptoms and Treatments
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you or someone you know snores loudly and then still feels tired even after a full night’s sleep, you could have sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
This occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax. These muscles support the soft palate, the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils, the side walls of the throat and the tongue.
When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. You can’t get enough air, which can lower the oxygen level in your bloodstream. Your brain senses that you can’t breathe and briefly rouses you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. This awakening is usually so brief that you don’t remember it.
You might snort, choke or gasp. This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more each hour, all night, impairing your ability to reach the deep, restful phases of sleep.
Loud snoring can keep anyone who sleeps near you from getting good rest. It’s not uncommon for a partner to have to go to another room to be able to sleep. I know, because my husband has sleep apnea, and I tell you what, it drives me insane.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, see your doctor. Treatment can ease your symptoms and might help prevent heart problems and other complications.
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep, which would be reported by another person
Gasping for air during the night when you sleep
You wake up with a dry mouth
Some people have a morning headache
Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
Confusion not paying attention while awake
Irritability, because of not getting the proper sleep
Your doctor may make an evaluation based on your signs and symptoms and a sleep history, which you can provide with help from someone who shares your bed or house if possible. (Yes that would be me.)
You’re likely to be referred to a sleep center. A sleep specialist will help you determine if you will need further evaluation.
An evaluation involves staying overnight at a sleep disorder center, they will hook you up to all these wires and monitor your breathing and other body functions while you sleep. Home sleep testing also might be an option. Tests to detect sleep apnea include:
During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep.
Home Sleep Tests.
Your doctor will provide you with a simple test to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests measure your heart rate, blood oxygen level, airflow and your breathing pattern.
Treatment consists of self care
Always check with your doctor first.