Disruptive pauses in breathing are the main characteristics of sleep apnea. The periods of breathing stops which may occur up to several hundred times a night are also known as “apneas”. Excessive snoring can often lead to sleep apnea as the soft tissues of the mouth become irritated and inflamed, resulting in the constriction of the airway to the point of complete blockage which can last for periods of ten seconds or longer.
Do you wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air? If this sounds like you, then you might be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea tends to occur more in people who are overweight and in terms of gender; men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women. Loud snoring, headaches in the morning, sleepiness and tiredness during the day are other symptoms of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is not confined to just adults, as children can also suffer from sleep apnea. Failing grade or school performance, daytime tiredness, lack of focus, lack of attentiveness in class can all be symptoms of sleep apnea. Children who suffer from these or similar symptoms should see a sleep specialist to determine if they are suffering from a sleep disorder or sleep apnea in particular.
The main problem with sleep apnea is a person’s inability to recognize that he or she has it or are showing symptoms of sleep apnea. Often, it requires a family member or partner to point out the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. The sufferer usually has no recollection of waking up in the middle of the night gasping or hear themselves snoring during sleep. Most people disregard snoring as a symptom of sleep apnea. In fact, the majority of people who suffer from sleep apnea go about their lives living with this sleep disorder and not finding a cure for it.
Many of sleep apnea’s symptoms are disregarded especially in the busy lives that surround us these days. Snoring for instance, is often seen as a disruptive norm to regular sleep patterns. However snoring could just be the start of sleep apnea. There are three types of sleep apnea namely, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Central Sleep Apnea and Mixed Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It is caused by obstructions to the airway due to the relaxation of the throat muscles. These throat muscles consist of soft tissue which collapse during sleep and cause the snoring sound that can be heard. Obstructive sleep apnea is prevalent in over-weight people and more likely to affect smokers and heavy drinkers. Individuals who suffer from this often have difficulty clocking up quality sleep.
Central Sleep apnea (CSA) is not as common as it’s obstructive cousin OSA. This condition is marked by improper brain signals which are sent to the throat muscles responsible for breathing and therefore muscles are confused as to whether they are meant to be open or close which results in sleep apnea.
Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA) as it’s name suggest is a combination of OCA and CSA. Thus individuals who suffer from MSA have the symptoms of both CSA and OSA. This is the rarest of the three sleep apneas.