Few things have the ability to impact our health and mental well-being as significantly as the quality and quantity of our sleep. Sadly, many people suffer the symptoms of poor-quality sleep due to undiagnosed sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of interrupted breathing. People who snore loudly and generally feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, may in fact be dealing with sleep apnea.
Understanding obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of apnea diagnosis. It occurs when something blocks part or all of your upper airway during sleep. When this happens, your diaphragm and chest muscles have to work harder to get air into your lungs. During episodes of obstructive sleep apnea, your breath may become very shallow or you may stop breathing altogether. Often, you will release a gasp as you suddenly begin to breathe again. It’s easy to see how this pattern of interrupted breathing can keep you from enjoying restful, deep sleep.
Warning signs and symptoms
There are a number of common symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea. In addition to exhaustion or fatigue, individuals with this sleep disorder may also experience:
· Dry mouth or sore throat upon rising
· Morning headaches
· Poor concentration, forgetfulness or mood swings
· Diminished sex drive
· Sudden waking and feeling like you are choking
· High blood pressure
· Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Obstructive sleep apnea causes
Obstructive sleep apnea typically occurs when the muscles that control your airway become overly relaxed. Some of the underlying causes of this occurrence include obesity, swollen tonsils, and other related health problems such as endocrine disorders or heart failure. Individuals with diabetes and those with large necks may also be more at risk for developing obstructive sleep apnea.
Treating obstructive sleep apnea
If you or someone you love suspect you may have sleep apnea, the first thing to do is schedule an appointment for a complete medical check-up. If sleep apnea is suspected, you may be referred for a sleep study to help identify what is at the root of your sleep disorder. The good news is, obstructive sleep apnea is a treatable condition. Contact our office to learn more, so you can once again enjoy the deep, restful sleep you deserve.