Sleep apnea is a condition that affects you while you are asleep. It can become a serious disorder, and it occurs when you stop breathing during your sleep. There are different types of sleep apnea, and obstructive sleep apnea is considered to be the most common. With this type, the airway will become blocked while you sleep. You can read more on obstructive sleep apnea here:
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
This type of sleep apnea is often caused by the soft tissue in your throat collapsing while you sleep. When this happens, that tissue will cover the airway, causing you to stop breathing. This can cause you to wake up startled as you gasp for air. Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition that's considered to be serious because it can prevent your organs from getting the amount of oxygen they need during sleep. It also affects your sleeping patterns, frequently preventing a person from getting enough uninterrupted sleep.
What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?
There are other symptoms that can indicate you may have obstructive sleep apnea besides waking up gasping as described above. Since you are likely not getting a good night's sleep, daytime fatigue can be another symptom of sleep apnea. The lack of sleep can also negatively affect your immune system, your mood, your memory and concentration, and more. High blood pressure can also be a symptom of this condition. Sleep apnea can also lead to dry mouth, a sore throat upon waking, night sweats, and headaches.
Another common symptom of sleep apnea is snoring. The snoring from sleep apnea is often different from regular snoring in several ways. A person who is snoring due to sleep apnea tends to have a much louder snore than someone who snores for other reasons, such as being overweight. Also, someone with sleep apnea may have long pauses between their snoring. They can also end up causing themselves to choke when they snore.
How is sleep apnea treated?
The good news is that there are things the doctor can do to help treat your sleep apnea if you are diagnosed with it. One of the possible treatments involves wearing a mouthpiece while you sleep that helps keep your airway open as you sleep. Another treatment involves the use of a CPAP machine. This is a machine with a piece that fits into your nose or has a mask that fits over your nose and mouth. While you sleep, air pressure will be delivered through the piece, and this helps to significantly decrease the number of times you struggle for a breath while you sleep.
If you have any reason to believe you may have sleep apnea, then your doctor can get you set up for tests to properly diagnose you. The sooner you have answers, the sooner you can begin proper treatment, if necessary.