How Sleep Apnea comes to be
This repetition in breath pausing throughout the night does not just randomly appear. A lot of factors must be present for your body to choke itself, but if it does, these pauses can occur several times per hour and last for over 10 seconds. Sleep apnea is usually a chronic condition. Most people have sleep apnea for years before being diagnosed. As the blood-oxygen levels decrease, the brain awakens the individual which often leads to a loud gasp or snort. Sleep apnea is associated with snoring, witnessed pauses in breathing, and excessive daytime sleepiness. When breathing appears to stop or becomes shallow, the sleeper comes out of deep sleep and moves to a light sleep or awakens. This results in poor quality sleep, resulting in excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep Apnea is when the tissue at the back of the throat between the mouth and lungs can briefly collapse and become so restricted that breathing actually stops, momentarily or for frighteningly longer periods. When this happens, the body sensors send a notification to the brain, which awakens and then intervenes to open the airways again. This can happen just a few times, or many times an hour, which means that you rarely get to enjoy the deeper level of restful, recovery style sleep that your body needs to function at optimum capacity.
This will inevitably lead to a form of sleep deprivation making you anywhere from feeling sleepy to chronic tiredness. As a result, not only are there significant direct health risks from the Sleep Apnea itself such as stroke or heart failure, but also from injury from accidents due to poor sleep.
Why is it not diagnosed?
It can’t be detected during a routine doctor’s appointment, and there’s no blood test to diagnose it. In fact, most sufferers don’t even know they have it because it occurs during sleep. Often, it is the bed partner or family member who is suspicious. Usually, the person is referred to a sleep doctor.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the most common type of Sleep Apnea. The airway either becomes blocked or collapses during sleep, resulting in pauses in breathing, or very shallow breathing. The air that manages to squeeze through the blockage can create loud snoring. This is often seen in people who are overweight or obese.
Serious repercussions when left untreated
Sleep Apnea is a potentially serious condition that requires management for the long-term. Treatment can be in the form of breathing devices such as mouthpieces, CPAP mask, and other breathing devices; surgery is also an option in some cases, and there are lifestyle changes that can and should be made. When it is left untreated, there’s an increased risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and diabetes. Provides irregular heartbeats, or arrhythmias, much more likely; It increases the risk of heart failure. And you have a much higher chance of being part of a driving, or work-related accident.
Why does the world use the term “disorder” when referring to sleep issues? Well, the definition of “disorder” is “a confused or messy state”. In this case, interruptions to sleep patterns can have multiple overlapping factors that can be medical, psychological or lifestyle driven. So, using the term disorder covers a myriad of possible alternatives and options as to why you are not sleeping well.