Do you wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep? Have you been told that you snore loudly and seem to stop breathing while sleeping? Then it is possible that you are suffering from Sleep Apnea. Read on to find out more about the symptoms and diagnosis for this condition.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnoea or as it is more commonly known as Sleep Apnea, is a relatively common problem. It causes broken sleep patterns that usually lead to increased tiredness and decreased awareness in waking hours, morning headaches or a dry throat when you wake up.
The clinical definition of an apnea is a cessation of breath that lasts for at least 10 seconds. The medical condition called “Sleep Apnea” is a condition where sufferers stop breathing and have repeated apneas over extended periods of time while sleeping.
The most common form is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA) and this is where the airway has collapsed or becomes blocked during sleep. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage usually causes loud snoring which is nearly always associated with OSA. During an apnea, where breathing stops altogether, the concentration of oxygen in your blood drops, as your lungs are not receiving any fresh air or oxygen to replenish your blood in exchange for carbon dioxide, until it reaches dangerously low levels that are low enough to trigger your brain to disturb your sleep. The associated reflex action helps tighten the upper airway muscles and open your windpipe. Sleep Apnea
Normal breathing then starts again, often with a body jerk, loud snort or choking sound and usually without you even being aware of it having happened.
Factors that are known to increase the risk for OSA include a family history of sleep apnoea, a large neck, a recessed chin, male sex, abnormalities in the structure of the upper airway, smoking, alcohol use, age and excess weight.
Obstructive sleep apnoea happens more often in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
There is no blood or other post event test for diagnosing the condition, and as such it is normally first diagnosed as a result of comments or complaints from your sleeping partners or family who have become concerned about your chronic snoring, choking or gasping during your sleep as well as the extended periods where you stop breathing altogether while asleep.
Sleep Apnea can be a life threatening condition with the reduced sleep quality and the frequent drops in the blood oxygen levels during the apnea triggering the release of stress hormones. These hormones, among other issues, raise your heart rate and increase your risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases and associated problems.
Less obvious but more serious medical problems that can be aggravated or caused by the condition include weight gain, impotency, memory lapses, depression, irritable mood swings and personality charges. Sleep apnea could be having a major impact on your life and overall well being without you even being aware of it, in fact it could be ruining your life!