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Are You Suffering from Sleep Apnea Without Diagnosis?
Thursday, 08 April 2021

Tom, 43, wakes up exhausted in the morning, even if he had enough hours of sleep during the night. He relies solely on caffeine to get himself through the long, grueling day. He feels irritated because he can’t seem to do anything right at work. He can’t wait to call it a day and hit the sack.

If this scenario is something you go through on almost a day-to-day basis, then like Tom, you might have sleep apnea.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes a person to stop breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time during sleep. The most common type of this disorder is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs when the muscles of the throat relax, thereby blocking the airway. When this happens, the brain signals the body to breathe again. The person momentarily wakes up to take that much-needed breath, and promptly falls back to sleep, unaware of what has happened.

A Common Sleep Disorder

OSA affects one billion adults, or one-seventh of the world’s total adult population. The increase in the prevalence of worldwide obesity is said to be the culprit, as well as advanced age.
Despite the numbers, many OSA sufferers remain undiagnosed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 85% of sleep apnea sufferers do not even know that they have the disorder. This poses a grave threat not only to individual health, but also to global health.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Are you part of the statistics? Here are some sleep apnea red flags you should watch out for:
1. Loud Snoring - While not everyone who snores have OSA, snoring is one of the major symptoms of the disorder. When the airway is obstructed during sleep, the brain orders the body to breathe harder, which in turn makes the soft tissues at the back of the mouth vibrate. This vibration causes the sound we know as snoring. Snorting, gasping for air, and choking during sleep, could also be signs that your airway is obstructed.
However, you might not snore and still have sleep apnea. Or you could snore and not know it, unless you have a bed partner who alerts you about your snoring.
2. Daytime Fatigue - During apnea events, your brain repeatedly signals your body to resume breathing. You may be unaware that you have woken up, but these micro-interruptions get in the way of your ability to achieve restful sleep. It takes up to an hour before you reach the deep and restful part of the sleep cycle. If another micro-awakening occurs before deep sleep, then the sleep cycle restarts, resulting in daytime fatigue.
You could wake up tired and be excessively drowsy during the day, which can also affect your productivity, and concentration levels.
3. Insomnia - Multiple pauses in breathing can cause a stress response in your body, which can fully wake you up. This stress response can then lead you to think about your worries, which then keeps you from going back to sleep.
Daytime sleepiness, caused by sleep apnea, may also lead you to taking naps during the day. While napping can temporarily relieve that drowsy feeling, it can also undermine your nightly sleep, especially if you have insomnia.
4. Frequent Night Urination - If you wake up more than twice every night to visit the toilet, then you probably have sleep apnea. According to one research study, 84% of people with sleep apnea also suffer from nighttime urination or nocturia.
During apnea events, blood oxygen levels drop. The level of carbon dioxide in the blood increases, and making the blood acidic. This results in constriction of the blood vessels in the lungs, and a drop in the heart rate. The brain then signals the body to wake, and breathe. Heart rate increases as the heart experiences a false signal of fluid overload. A hormone is then released to signal the body to release sodium and water — even if the bladder is not full.
5. Other Risk Factor - Some people are more predisposed to OSA than others. Overweight males over 40 are at risk, as well as those who have a family history of sleep apnea.
Physiological factors such as a large neck, a large tongue, large tonsils, and a small jawbone, can also put you at risk for developing sleep apnea. You are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea if you have sinus issues, allergies, or gastroesophageal reflux.

Getting Help

Undiagnosed and unmanaged, sleep apnea can lead to a plethora of health issues including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be successfully managed.
The gold standard for treating moderate to severe sleep apnea is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure CPAP machine. Not just any machine, however, do your research and choose the best CPAP machine. This instrument delivers a continuous flow of air through the nose and the mouth, to prevent airway obstruction. It is providing relief for millions.
Talk to your provider for a full diagnosis, and to learn more about the effectiveness of CPAP machines.
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