Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects more than 22 million Americans. It’s characterized by interruptions in breathing during sleep, which can occur anywhere from five to 30 times per hour. Though there are three different types of sleep apnea, this post will focus on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common form of sleep apnea.
Left untreated, OSA can increase the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, depression and other serious health issues. By managing sleep apnea with CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy or other treatment methods, you can reduce these risks and improve your sleep health—but first it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
When people think about the symptoms of sleep apnea, loud snoring is often the first thing that comes to mind. This is certainly a common sleep apnea symptom, but there are other signs to look for too:
- Waking up abruptly to the sensation of choking
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Insomnia or restless sleep
- Irritability, forgetfulness or difficulty paying attention
- Waking up with a dry throat or mouth
- Morning headaches
In addition to symptoms of sleep apnea, there are also certain factors that increase the risk of developing this sleep disorder. These include:
- Thick neck circumference
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Being male
- Being middle-aged or older
Even if an individual doesn’t have any of the above risk factors, it is still possible for them to develop sleep apnea.
Managing Sleep Apnea
Fortunately, there are effective ways of managing sleep apnea, such as using a CPAP machine. CPAP therapy is widely used with great success, and considered by experts to be the gold-standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. A CPAP machine works by blowing gentle, pressurized air through the airway to prevent it from collapsing during sleep.
Studies have shown that using a CPAP machine to treat obstructive sleep apnea can reverse some of the symptoms of sleep apnea and reduce the risk of health issues linked with this sleep disorder.
If you notice yourself exhibiting the symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s important that you seek the advice of a professional so that you can work toward managing sleep apnea and improving your overall health.