Has anyone told you that you make strange breathing noises while you sleep? Sleep apnea is a relatively common problem that causes a people to pause their breathing or to take very shallow breaths while they are sleeping. The pauses or shallow breathing lasts for only a few seconds in some cases, but in other cases it can last for up to a couple of minutes.
The pattern of paused or shallow breathing can occur repeatedly each hour. In most cases, a person resumes normal breathing patterns, but not without emitting a noise such as a “snort” or a choking sound. The effects of sleep apnea vary greatly depending on the person and the severity of the condition. In most instances, sleep apnea results in a poor night’s sleep – which causes a person to be very tired the next day. But sometimes sleep apnea can result in an increased risk of serious medical conditions such as heart attacks, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and high blood pressure.
Most people do not realize they have sleep apnea until someone tells them. In most cases, sleep apnea is discovered by a spouse, a family member, or anyone who happens to be present while the person with this condition is sleeping. The observer usually notices the person is making strange breathing noises while sleeping. If the problem persists, the individual who has noticed the breathing problems usually encourages or insists the person with the breathing issues see a doctor. When the odd breathing noises are described, most doctors conclude that sleep apnea may be the cause.
Types of Sleep Apnea:
The two most common type of sleep apnea are Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Controlled Sleep Apnea.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea – this type of apnea is usually caused by some sort of obstruction in the airway. It can also be caused by a collapsed airway. In children, this type of sleep apnea is often caused by enlarged tonsils.
Central Sleep Apnea – this type of apnea is not as common as obstructive apnea. Instead of being related to an obstruction in the airway or to a collapsed airway, it is related to an incorrect signal from the brain that controls a person’s breathing muscles.
Both types of sleep apnea can be serious, and anyone displaying symptoms of either type should be immediately evaluated by a doctor. When sleep apnea is left untreated, a whole host of medical issues may arise. Not only does sleep apnea increase a patients’ chances of developing serious heart conditions, but sleep apnea also contributes to their increased risk of obesity and diabetes. In addition, because sleep apnea causes a person to be tired during the daytime hours due to insufficient rest during the night, the result is often a higher risk for car accidents and/or work-related accidents.
Whats The Treatment?
Most cases of sleep apnea can be treated. But effective treatment of this chronic condition requires that patients be committed to the management of their symptoms. For example, sleep apnea is often be treated with apparatuses worn in the mouth while the patient is sleeping. Or, a device that assists with nighttime breathing might be required. In some cases, doctors order patients with sleep apnea to adjust their lifestyles to be more healthy. In severe cases of sleep apnea, heart conditions are the result. In these situations, it is especially important to follow a doctor’s treatment orders so the condition does not become life threatening.
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