If you snore on a regular basis, you might be a habitual snorer. Some habitual snorers can be at risk of Sleep Apnea. There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): the most common of the three, occurs when there is a blockage of the airway (comes along with very loud snoring).
- Central Sleep Apnea: much less common, it occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnea seldom snore.
- Complex Sleep Apnea: a combination of the Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea.
Any of these can create several problems for the sufferer. If you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. It can be difficult to know, as not all snoring sufferers have sleep apnea, and not all sleep apnea sufferers snore. It’s important to keep a journal to track your sleep, and any symptoms that may appear.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA is often associated with chronic snoring. It can cause long interruptions, over 10 seconds, in the sufferer’s breathing while they are asleep. This happens because the airway is blocked and the suffer can no longer breath. These episodes can happen a few times – to hundreds of times a night. When the sufferer stops breathing, the body will wake him or her up, resulting in a very disrupted sleep throughout the night. This will obviously bring constant, daily fatigue, reducing the sufferer’s quality of life. Because the airway is obstructed, the oxygen level in the blood is reduced. This makes the heart pump even harder than normal and that results in increased blood pressure. Prolonged suffering of OSA can result in high blood pressure and enlargement of the heart, with higher risks of heart attack and stroke. When we don’t get enough oxygen, our bodies produce adrenalin. Adrenalin is a chemical that our bodies use to cope with stressful situations. Unfortunately it also causes the blood sugar to rise, which might eventually lead to diabetes.
This is why it is extremely important to see your doctor if you think you, or a loved one is suffering from OSA.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common and the symptoms of OSA include:
- Very loud and chronic snoring, including choking, snorting or gasping
- Long pauses in breathing
- Always feeling tired
- Waking up and feeling out of breath
- Forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating
- Restless sleep
- Moodiness and irritability
Anyone can suffer from OSA, but there are increased risk factors, which include being overweight, male, over the age of 65, black, Hispanic or a Pacific Islander, a smoker or related to someone that suffers from sleep apnea. All of these factors could very well increase your chances of suffering from sleep apnea.