Sleep apnea might be one of the most under diagnosed medical issues in the world today. And unfortunately many serious health problems stem from this condition, and some of them are rather surprising. It is a condition that can have a domino effect on your physical, emotional and mental health.
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What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when there are pauses or interruptions in breathing during sleep. The condition has three forms:
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)-interruptions are caused when the brain fails to message the respiratory system to breathe.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)-breathing is interrupted by a physical blockage, often the soft tissue of the throat or the tongue collapsing into the airway.
A combination of both CSA and OSA.
Complex/Mixed Sleep Apnea-a combination of CSA and OSA.
While sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, there are several tell-tale signs. As mentioned, some of the most common ailments people suffer from can be traced back to sleep apnea, and getting a proper diagnosis and treatment can change a person’s life.
Here are some common and perhaps surprising Signs and Symptoms that are related to sleep apnea:
Many people who snore don’t have sleep apnea, and some people with sleep apnea don’t snore. However, it is one of the most common signs that you are living with this condition. Especially if the snoring is loud, disruptive, and occurs on a nightly basis.
Exhaustion or Daytime Sleepiness
Since a person’s sleep is constantly interrupted by jolts to the body’s respiratory system, a person might not achieve deep sleep. When this happens night after night, sometimes without even knowing it, exhaustion grows. A person might think they’ve rested for eight straight hours, but in fact, the sleep has been intermittent. The physical, emotional and mental consequences from lack of sleep can have far reaching and dangerous effects.
If you suffer from frequent headaches but can’t locate the source, you might want to look closer at the possibility of sleep apnea. Since a less sustained flow of oxygen is reaching your brain, headaches can result.
High Blood Pressure
For the same reasons that headaches occur, so can high blood pressure become a symptom related to sleep apnea. When there is a lack of oxygen in the blood, blood vessels restrict to get the respiratory system working again. Over time, hypertension can occur.
Overweight or Obesity
Sleep apnea and being overweight often go hand in hand, each affecting the other. The more fatty tissue in the neck increases the chances of blockages and interrupted sleep. In turn, poor quality of sleep can negatively affect a person’s metabolism, causing weight gain.
Irritability and Mood Swings
If you have difficulty in regulating your emotions, the problem may start with sleep apnea. This condition interrupts the deep, restful part of sleep, and can be linked to anxiety, short-tempers, depression, and a host of other brain functions.
As you can see, many of these issues like headaches and mood swings are common. While the odd headache or flare up in temper is probably nothing to worry about, consistent troubles may signal something deeper.
The good news about sleep apnea is that once it is properly diagnosed by a medical doctor or sleep specialist, there are solutions available. And finding the source of the issue is essential for a full recovery. Remember: health is always worth investigating and investing in!
If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, consult your physician today.