If you or someone you know has trouble getting some uninterrupted sleep, you may have to study up about certain sleep conditions.
There are varying reasons as to why people suddenly wake up in the middle of their night’s sleep.
This article discusses one of the most common respiratory causes, known as sleep apnea.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder which is the result of frequent breathing pauses.
Shallow breathing also counts as sleep apnea, and as long as the person experiencing it does so a few times in one night, the condition has to be taken care of.
The breathing pauses last usually from as short as three to five seconds to as long as several minutes. The brain is forced out of its relaxed state and instructs the body to wake up, ultimately resuming regular breathing.
Here we will discuss the effects of sleep apnea on people’s health, three major types of sleep apnea, and a few tips on how to treat the condition.
Untreated sleep apnea is not to be taken lightly because it can lead to a number of delicate conditions. There is a possibility of high blood pressure, which leads to heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, persons suffering from sleep apnea can turn obese, leading to much more serious conditions such as diabetes.
Heart failure becomes much more likely since sleep apnea can cause irregular heartbeats. Needless to say, with the irregular patterns of heartbeats, people become more prone to everyday accidents – for instance, driving or walking down a busy street.
Types Of Sleep Apnea
There are three major types of sleep apnea: Obstructive, Central, and Mixed. The treatment for a person’s condition primarily depends on the type of apnea that he has and his current overall state of health.
In Obstructive sleep apnea, a person’s throat muscles are relaxed, which leads to the tongue and other major tissues of the area temporarily blocking the airway. This reduction of air inflow thus results in a limited supply of oxygen for the brain.As a result, the brain is forcibly woken up. It then instructs the body to inhale. Usually, people make sounds such as gasping or choking when this happens. The person then inhales the right amount of oxygen and returns to sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea can range from mild (five to fourteen instances per hour of sleep) to severe (more than thirty instances per hour). This results in morning headaches, snoring, and ultimately, depression.
Central sleep apnea, the second type of the condition, occurs when there is somewhat a communication issue between the brain and the muscles responsible for breathing. In contrast to Obstructive sleep apnea – which is primarily caused by a muscle blocking the airways, this type of apnea is usually an issue of communication between the brain and the said muscles. This is a less common case of the condition and is normally caused by medical issues surrounding the brain and the nervous system.
Mixed sleep apnea, the third variant, is simply the combination of both Obstructive and Central sleep apnea. It is not uncommon for patients suffering from Obstructive sleep apnea to be eventually diagnosed with Central Sleep apnea. This is simply a combination of a “communication” and “mechanical” problem in breathing, as medical professionals have observed to be true in hundreds of patients.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Positive airway pressure therapy is the most commonly sought after remedy for Obstructive sleep apnea. Surgery is not out of the question as well, since there may be a looming permanent blockage – leading to much more serious conditions.
For Central sleep apnea, there may be a need to use a mask while sleeping, a treatment method known as Continuous Positive airway pressure. Medications can certainly be of help as well, with Acetazolamide and Theophylline as top choices. CPAP methods still remain the top solution for Mixed sleep apnea, although more specific methods are being developed in order to address this particular type of apnea.
As in all medical conditions, sleep apnea is not to be taken lightly. What appears to be a relatively less dangerous condition might quickly develop into a serious one and may lead to other more drastic conditions. There is always help available for all three types of apnea. Medical professionals can help you which one fits your condition best.