An estimated 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea in the U.S. alone. If you think you might belong to this segment of the population, you should learn as much as you can about the disorder, from common causes and symptoms to effective sleep apnea treatment options. Take a look at the following questions and answers.
What Happens in Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea involves a disruption of normal breathing patterns during sleep. Most people with this condition suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, in which the throat muscles get so relaxed that the airway closes in on itself. In obstructive sleep apnea, the sleeping brain fails to regulate breathing actions correctly.
Why Do People Struggle With Sleep Apnea?
Any factor that encourages or allows an airway blockage can produce sleep apnea. Examples include obesity, alcohol or sedative medications, chronic nasal congestion, sleeping on your back, and smoking. A family history of sleep apnea or a hormonal condition that causes throat swelling may also risk your risk.
When Should You Suspect Sleep Apnea?
You might not know about your sleep apnea until someone accuses you of snoring, a common symptom of the disorder. Other trouble signs can include morning headaches, a dry mouth when you first wake up, daytime drowsiness, irritability, and waking up suddenly while gasping for air.
Why Should You Get Sleep Apnea Treated?
Sleep apnea can do more than simply deprive you of a decent night's sleep. The frequent interruptions in breathing rob the body of much-needed oxygen. Over time, this oxygen deprivation can raise your risk for cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart failure.
Researchers have noted that sleep apnea often occurs alongside certain mental and emotional issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder. If you suffer from one of these conditions, treatment for sleep apnea may help you in your efforts to control that problem as well.
How Can Treatment Help You Manage Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea treatment often involves devices that help you breathe more normally and get more oxygen during sleep. For instance, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine feeds you air through a face mask at controlled pressure levels. This continuous supply of air helps to keep the airway open.
Other smart strategies can also help you manage your sleep apnea. You may need to lose excess weight, give up smoking and alcohol use, ask your doctor about changes in your medication routine, or look into surgery that can remove nasal or throat obstructions. Schedule a consultation with a sleep apnea treatment center today.