Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder where breathing patterns repeatedly stop (often for a minute or longer) and start during sleep. This can sometimes occur hundreds of times a night. OSA, or Obstructive Sleep Apnea, is when you stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because your airway collapses. Airway blockage may be due to: a large tongue, extra tissue in the airway, or decreased muscle tone holding the airway open when asleep.
People who suffer from sleep apnea often complain of being very sleepy during the day, may experience morning headaches, memory problems, feelings of depression, mood swings, frequent urination and gastric reflux. Blood oxygen levels also decrease as a result of obstructed breathing, which can severely affect the heart and other major bodily functions. When these pauses in breathing happen more than five times per hour, healthy sleep is interrupted and it puts a strain on the heart and can lead to a number of serious health conditions.
Therapies that use positive air pressure or PAP devices are the most common when it comes to treating sleep apnea and other forms of sleep and breathing disorders. Introducing positive lifestyle changes also play a role in treating sleep apnea. Losing excess weight that can put pressure on the chest and diaphragm is one way of helping to control how a person breathes during sleep. Inspire therapy is also gaining popularity when it comes to treating sleep apnea. A device is implanted in the body that stimulates the muscles involved during the breathing process to keep working during sleep.
If sleep apnea is not treated, several things begin to happen within the body and mind. Because oxygen becomes limited, there is not enough in the bloodstream to meet the body's demands. Cells and tissues become oxygen deprived, causing pain and, eventually, muscle spasms. This can result in physical injuries, such as sprains, strains, or tears in the muscle tissue. The brain will also be deprived of oxygen, leading to headaches, the inability to concentrate or focus on specific tasks, poor vision, and mental disorders like depression and anxiety. The longer the condition is left untreated, the more severe the symptoms will become having an adverse effect on the person's quality of life.
Think you may have Sleep Apnea? Take the Questionnaire.