Nothing disrupts a good night’s sleep more than loud snoring, and it is also considered to be the leading cause of husbands having to sleep on the couch. For medical experts, loud snoring should not be ignored because it can be a sign of sleep apnea, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Sleep apnea is the cessation of breathing while a person is asleep. Shallow breathing with pauses that last for about 10 to 20 seconds each is considered sleep apnea. Due to this, lack of oxygen takes place and results in a jolting awakening. This induces sleep deprivation wherein a person suffers from fatigue, drowsiness, slow reflexes and poor concentration during the day.
To understand more about sleep apnea, one must know how to differentiate its kinds. There are three types namely obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea.
Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of all. It happens when the soft tissues at the back of the throat, including the tongue, relax during sleep and block the airway. Once the airway is blocked, it causes a loud vibrating sound which we know as snoring. The second type is central sleep apnea. It is the less common type because it involves the central nervous system. This happens when the brain fails to send signals to specific muscles that control breathing. Also, snoring is not that evident for people suffering from central sleep apnea. The last type is complex sleep apnea wherein it is the combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
It is very important to pay attention to the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea because it can happen to anybody. It does not choose any gender, race or age. It is best to know the following signs and symptoms because it might save a loved ones’ life or even yours.
Signs and Symptoms
The major signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring with long pauses in breathing, choking, snorting, and gasping for air during sleep. Complaints of people suffering from sleep apnea may include waking up with a dry mouth, coarse voice, sore throat, throbbing headache, restless sleep, fatigue during the day, and lethargy. Before complaining how loudly other people snore and judging them for being lazy, take time to know how they are doing especially in the way they sleep.
Some people may ignore the fact that they can be candidates for sleep apnea, especially if they are not aware of the risk factors. Obesity, family history, old age, and cigarette smoking are among the high risk factors. Medical conditions such as allergic reactions, nasal congestion, and other ailments that involve the airway may also cause sleep apnea. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it is best to consult a doctor.
Sleep Right and Avoid Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can be alleviated by improving one’s sleeping practices. Changing one’s body position while sleeping can prevent it from happening. Sleeping on one’s side is recommended for persons suffering from sleep apnea. It is because when a person sleeps on their back, gravity makes the relaxed tongue drop on the soft tissues of the throat. This causes obstruction and loud snoring. Propping an extra pillow beneath your head elevates it from the body. This also prevents the tongue from dropping onto the air passage. The ideal height for the head is four to six inches because anything higher than that can lead to a stiff neck or a strained shoulder. cpap
Sleep apnea is treated in several ways. Doctors usually recommend sleep apnea mouthpieces. These are devices designed to alleviate excessive snoring and bruxism, best known as teeth grinding. Most sleep apnea mouthpieces are custom fit to prevent choking and slipping.
Several users and doctors investigated the pros and cons of using sleep apnea mouthpieces. Since these devices are geared towards providing relief and comfort, it is important to take time reading the reviews of several products in the market.
One benefit of using sleep apnea mouthpieces or mouths guard for snoring is that it provides immediate relief from sleep apnea and excessive snoring. It is also non-invasive compared to surgery and other permanent dental devices. Also, it is only worn during sleeping unlike braces and dental splints which have to be worn most of the day for the whole world to see.
There are some disadvantages, though. Since it is portable, one can easily misplace their mouthpiece. Likewise, some people feel uncomfortable having something in their mouths while they are sleeping. Others may take a very long time adjusting and this can lead to discomfort and lack of sleep for some. Such mouthpieces should also be cleaned and brushed just like teeth. More or less, poorly cleansed mouth guards can be very unhygienic.
CPAP is an acronym that stands for Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure. It is the most popular treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. CPAP is a device wherein a mask is used to provide a constant stream of air while sleeping. It is like having an oxygen treatment from the hospital minus the huge green tank. Some CPAP machines are now designed in a compact way, thus making them more portable for travel.
One benefit of having a CPAP device is that it provides continuous airflow to the passages while sleeping. This ensures that the body, particularly the brain, is getting enough oxygen. People who used the CPAP device felt improvements in their bodies. These claims include higher stamina during the day, boost in focus and concentration, and most of all a restful sleep. The disadvantages, on the other hand, are similar to those of sleep apnea mouthpieces. Since the CPAP is used externally, the person using this may find it annoying and uncomfortable at first. For some, it restrains them from changing their position while sleeping because the device might be displaced.