Did you know that 25 million adults across the US suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (or OSA)? Most people tend to ignore the condition unless it starts affecting them more seriously via other health complications.
As a professional sleep coach, I can tell you, there are several symptoms of sleep apnea such as excessive snoring and disrupted breathing, which can indicate early on that you are at high risk for the disorder.
Furthermore, some of the factors which lead to the condition can be controlled, effectively lowering the risk of getting the disorder. Seeking professional help early on is probably the best way to avoid the health complications that arise due to sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition which impacts not only your quality of sleep but more importantly, it can lead to serious health complications which are potentially life-threatening.
Sleep Apnea – Common Symptoms and Risk Factors
As mentioned above, excessive snoring and breathing disruptions are the two main symptoms of sleep apnea.
However, not every snorer suffers from sleep apnea. The best indication that snoring is caused by sleep apnea is when snoring is interspersed by periods of silent breathing or gasping and choking sounds. Here are some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea:
- Episodes of loud snoring followed by silent breathing pauses and gasping or choking sounds.
- Sleepiness or fatigue during the daytime.
- Poor quality sleep and waking up with morning headaches.
- Disrupted sleep characterized by frequent bathroom breaks at night.
- Difficulty focusing, irritable, and memory loss.
- Drop in sexual desire.
Each of these symptoms/conditions can be triggered individually due to any number of factors such as stress or an illness. However, collectively, there is a high possibility that the symptoms could be due to sleep apnea.
The risk factors which can lead to sleep apnea include the following:
Excessive Weight or Higher BMI
Although excess weight, BMI over 25 (overweight) and BMI over 30 (obese), increases your chance of getting sleep apnea, there is a caveat. Being overweight or obese does not always lead to sleep apnea. The risk comes from the fact that excess weight around the neck can make breathing difficult—which leads to disrupted sleep.
Neck Circumference Matters
If neck circumference in men is 17 inches or more and in women if the circumference of the neck is 16 inches and more, the risk of sleep apnea increases. This is because the excess weight places a lot of pressure on the airway during sleep.
Gender and Age
The percentage of men with OSA is 24%-31% while among women, the percentage is lower at 9%-21%. Age can also be a factor, as the condition is found to be more common among young adults and middle-aged people.
Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol can slow down breathing, make it shallow, and relax the muscles in the throat. All these actions can lead to the upper airway collapsing.
Among smokers, the risk of getting sleep apnea is higher. Tobacco can lead to an inflamed or irritated airway, which in turn can make the airway narrow.
You cannot do anything if your airway is naturally narrow or small. However, other factors like working towards getting rid of excess weight and eliminating or at the very least, sufficiently controlling smoking and alcohol consumption can make a big difference as your chances of getting the disorder are reduced.
Sleep apnea is not a condition which can be ignored. It will not go away by itself and yes, it can be life-threatening.
It is vital that you consult with a professional to help you address and limit the potential health risks that can arise if the condition is left untreated. Above all, you need professional help to resume your natural sleeping pattern and start sleeping better.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy
Sleep apnea can be effectively managed with front-line treatment options like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. CPAP therapy helps by ensuring your airway stays open during the night.
The flow of a constant stream of air aids in easy breathing so you no longer suffer from breathing pauses.
Since your airway stays open, it eliminates excessive and loud snoring and the gasping or choking noises caused by sleep apnea. Your body is supplied with the required levels of oxygen, so you can continue to sleep deep and sleep better.
More People Need to Reach Out
Although sleep apnea is a recognized and high-risk sleeping disorder, the percentage of people who actively seek professional help for the condition continues to be low. A professional sleep coach can help accurately diagnose OSA and advise and guide you on managing the condition.
Valley Sleep Therapy – We Believe in Good Quality Sleep for All!
Valley Sleep Therapy is your one stop shop for CPAP, AutoPAP, and BiLevel CPAP machines. Browse our online CPAP supplies store or visit us in Mesa, AZ today!