Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that happens when an individual’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. That is, a person’s breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep causing the rest of the body to be deprived of oxygen. If you snore loudly and feel restless even after completing a full REM cycle, it could mean that you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea diagnosis is easy and it significantly depends on the symptoms you are showing. Depending on the symptoms as well, the doctor could also tell the type of sleep apnea you are suffering from. Primarily, there are three types of sleep apnea defined by doctors. They are:
- Complex sleep apnea syndrome
- Central sleep apnea
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common that occurs when there is a blockage of the airway, usually when the throat muscles relax during sleep.
Central sleep apnea happens when the brain struggles to send sensory signals to the muscles responsible for controlling the breathing.
Complex sleep apnea disorder occurs when an individual has both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.
It is important to contact your concerned physician if you think you have sleep apnea. Proper sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment can help prevent certain health complications followed by the disorder.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
According to experts, the symptoms of sleep apnea overlap in a way that it becomes difficult to distinguish the type of sleep apnea an individual is suffering from. The most common symptoms of the condition that the doctors look during sleep apnea diagnosis include:
- Difficulty in concentrating or paying attention while awake
- Hypersomnia – excessive daytime sleepiness
- Insomnia – difficulty staying asleep
- Morning headache
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Infrequent breathing during sleep – episodes in which you stop breathing
- Extremely loud snoring
What are the Causes of Sleep Apnea?
In most cases, sleep apnea occurs when the soft throat tissue collapses during sleep. This causes your airway to close or narrow down as you breathe. When this happens, you can’t get enough air, meaning the oxygen level in your blood decreases. Your inability to breathe is sensed by your brain, which then for a brief moment, revives you from your sleep for you to reopen your airway.
During this phase, you might gasp, choke, or snort and this pattern is repeated for at least 5-30 times in an hour during your sleep. This impairs your ability to reach a good nights’ sleep.
On the other hand, sleep apnea may also occur when your brain struggles to transfer signals to your breathing muscles properly. When this happens, you might have difficulty in staying asleep or you might wake up with shortness of breath.
What are the Leading Factors that May Cause Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that can affect anyone, irrespective of their sex or age. That means it can affect even children. However, there are certain risk factors that enhance the possibilities of the disorder. These factors may include:
- You are more likely to develop sleep apnea if you have difficulty breathing through your nose
- Smoking can cause inflammation in your upper airway followed by fluid retention, which can develop sleep apnea
- Sometimes sleep apnea is hereditary, meaning if you have a family history with sleep apnea, you may also get affected
- Heart disorders, being older, and obesity can also cause sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
Sleep apnea diagnosis is the evaluation of your sleep cycle based on your symptoms. For sleep apnea diagnosis, you might be referred to a sleep study company or a sleep disorder center, where sleep specialists can study your sleep for further evaluation. To diagnose your condition, the sleep specialist may conduct several tests.
Polysomnography is a type of sleep study where the patient is hooked up to medical equipment that monitors the brain, lung, and heart activity, including the breathing pattern, blood oxygen levels, and arm and leg movements. This may require you to stay at the center for a full night. During this, the patient will be under constant professional surveillance. Polysomnography is prescribed by the doctor to rule out any other sleeping disorder that might be causing the symptoms.