Do you wake up exhausted? Does your partner complain about your snoring? You may be one of up to 6% of people who suffer from sleep apnea – in obese people that number is 77% – and you may not know you have it.
Sleep apnea (also spelt apnoea) occurs when the pharyngeal muscles in your throat relax so much during sleep that your breathing gets blocked momentarily. When this happens, your brain notices the lack of oxygen in your blood, wakes you just enough for your conscious mind to tense the muscles and take a breath. You fall back into a deeper sleep and the cycle continues – usually without you even noticing. Sleep apnea results in feeling as though you are lacking in oxygen. You are sleepy most of the time, yet awaken with a sense of exhaustion. Some sleep apnea sufferers may fall asleep at work or while driving. Your partner may complain about your snoring. The earlier the detection of your sleep apnea, the better the treatment will work instead of damaging your health, relationship, or work performance.
It is normal to stop breathing, wake a little, breathe deeper, and fall back to sleep. However if this happens more than five times an hour, you likely have sleep apnea. In severe cases sleep apnea can occur more than 30 times an hour.
Sleep apnea occurs in all age groups – including newborn babies – but is more common in men than women, in overweight 4 people, or those over 50 years of age.
Large tonsils, a small nose, some thyroid conditions and nasal congestion can also predispose some to sleep apnea. Drinking alcohol or taking sedatives before sleep can relax your throat and worsen sleep apnea.
You may have sleep apnea if you have more than two or three of these symptoms:
People who suffer from sleep apnea often suffer from other conditions associated with and possibly caused by, sleep apnea.
By treating your sleep apnea, you may also be able to reduce the severity of, or risk of suffering from :8,9,10,11:
The three types of sleep apnea are:
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6. Paul E. Peppard; Mariana Szklo-Coxe; K. Mae Hla; Terry Young (2006). Longitudinal Association of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorder and Depression. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(16):1709-1715.
7. Anne G. Wheaton; Geraldine S. Perry; Daniel P. Chapman; Janet B. Croft. Sleep Disordered Breathing and Depression among U.S. Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2005-2008
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12. Meslier N, Gagnadoux F, Giraud P, Person C, Ouksel H, Urban T, Racineux JL (2003): Impaired glucose-insulin metabolism in males with obstructive sleep apnoea syndrome. Eur Respir J 22(1): 156-160
13. Bottini P, Dottorini ML, Cristina Cordoni M, Casucci G, Tantucci C (2003): Sleep-disordered breathing in nonobese diabetic subjects with autonomic neuropathy. Eur Respir J 22: 654- 660
14. Elmasry A, Lindberg E, Berne C, Janson C, Gislason T, Awad Tageldin M, Boman G (2001): Sleep-disordered breathing and glucose metabolism in hypertensive men: a population-based study. J Intern Med 249(2): 153-161