Definition of Sleep Apnea
What is sleep apnea? Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) is a disorder that effects the way your breathe when you sleep and is characterized by having one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. When your sleep apnea is untreated, your breathing is interrupted or becomes very shallow while you are trying to sleep. This is the most common type of sleep apnea called obstructive sleep apnea.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and can occur 30 times or more an hour to hundreds of times in a night. The brain will send a signal to the body and normal breathing starts again and the person suffering with sleep apnea will often choke or gasp for breath. The effects on the body can be very negative if left untreated.
These disruptions in sleep make getting the restorative nights sleep your body needs to rejuvenate itself virtually impossible. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep your body needs and into light sleep. The effects of not getting enough rest are broad in scope and contribute to a variety of health factors.
As a result, the quality of your sleep is so poor that it makes you tired and fatigued during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness and often effects us on our jobs and even our relationships with friends and family.
Eighty percent of those suffering with sleep apnea often go undiagnosed because a doctor usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition. It can only be detected with a sleep study that is read by a certified sleep doctor.
Since sleep apnea only occurs during sleep, it goes undetected for long periods of time. A family member normally is the first to point out the symptoms especially if the person is snoring loudly and excessively.
Sleep disordered breathing can affect every part of your life. It impairs memory and causes you to lose concentration. It puts strain on your body, especially your cardio vascular system and can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. It can slow your reaction time behind the steering wheel, shorten your temper, your attention span and even your life.
If you snore at night and you are exhausted all day, it could be because you have sleep apnea. You don’t want to take these symptoms for granted as they are serious and can be life threatening. It’s very common in those who are overweight but that is not the only factor is there are many who are not overweight who have sleep apnea. Children can suffer from sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils.
Major Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Since so many people are undiagnosed, many of them are unaware that they have sleep apnea and therefore it goes untreated. The quality of their lives is severely diminished and unexpected health problems arise. That is why it is important to know some of the major signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.
Here are a few of the signs and symptoms you may have obstructive sleep apnea:
- Loud or chronic snoring
- Choking, snorting or gasping for breath during sleep
- Long pauses in your breathing
- Daytime sleepiness no matter how much time you spend in bed
- You wake up with a dry mouth or a soar throat
- Have morning headaches
- Restless or fitful sleep
- Insomnia or nighttime awakenings
- Frequently going to the bathroom during the night
- Waking up and feeling out of breath
- Forgetfulness and not being able to concentrate
- Moodiness, irritability, depression, changes in temperment
- Unexpected health issues you didn’t have before become more evident
- High blood pressure
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, you may have obstructive sleep apnea. The first thing you must do is get a sleep study done and get a diagnosis from a certified sleep doctor.
If you need help in taking the next step to getting a restful and restorative nights sleep, call our office today to schedule and appointment with Dr. Parmar at 443-535-6989…you will be glad you did.
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