The Health Risks of Sleep Apnea
Have you ever heard someone sleeping near you suddenly pause in the breathing (especially if they were snoring) and then they resume breathing? You might have dismissed it as a snoring pattern. It actually may be a health issue, called sleep apnea. In this article, we explore the health risks of sleep apnea.
If you think you could have sleep apnea, please don’t just read this article – consult with your doctor about it.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where breathing pauses and starts at various moments during sleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea happens when the muscles at the back of the throat do not keep the airway open. This results in frequent pauses of breathing.
2. Central Sleep Apnea occurs when the brain is unable to control the breathing.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. There’s a third condition, complex sleep apnea, that involves both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is not a rare condition. An estimated 22 million adults in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. A CBC article indicates 5.4 million Canadians may be affected by obstructive sleep apnea.
Additionally, according to The Sleep Foundation, 2-3% of the children in the United States suffer from sleep apnea. There hasn’t been a lot of research, but sleep apnea seems to be more common in children who snore. Here are some ways to check for your child.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
There are a few common causes of sleep apnea. One of the causes of sleep apnea is the size of the tongue. A relatively big tongue can prevent the flow of air into the airway. The other thing is the size of the neck that likewise narrows the space in the airway. Also, bad news if you’re overweight. Sleep apnea is more common. Abuse of alcohol and smoking are also factors in causing sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is potentially serious and should be treated once diagnosed. Why? Sleep apnea lowers oxygen in the blood and causes uneven patterns of sleep. This combination can result in serious conditions such as memory loss, heart disease, hypertension, and mood swings. People with sleep apnea are also more likely to end up driving while drowsy. Other serious effects of sleep apnea are sexual dysfunction.
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is heavy snoring. Heavy snoring should never be ignored, as it can be an indicator of more serious underlying health problems. If your partner snores heavily get them to visit the physician. Heavy snoring tends to cause fragmented sleep. The resulting sleep deprivation may lead to more serious health issues.
Sleep apnea can cause people to fall asleep when they shouldn’t. Like when they are driving! Sleep apnea also tends to make us feel tired even after a night of what we may perceive as a good sleep. It impedes learning and interferes with proper memory function too. The concentration span becomes shorter and we may become restless, irritable and with unforeseen and inexplicable mood swings. If left untreated, it may cause depressive episodes, heart conditions, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Treatments For Sleep Apnea
There are a number of treatment options available for sleep apnea. In order to diagnose it, usually, you are required to spend a night at a special sleep center. Here’s the BC link for determining if you should get checked out. Here your vital functions such as your heart rate, your blood oxygen, and many other functions are monitored in order to gauge whether you are suffering from sleep apnea.
From there you can have breathing aids to help keep the airway open in the course of your sleep. Yet another common treatment option is surgery. The surgery is usually done to get rid of the tissue in the airway that causes the obstruction. There is a dental device that can also be used to create a clear way between the lower jaw and the tongue. Your sleeping position can also help, most people have said that the effects of sleep apnea are quite subdued when they lie on their side instead of on their backs.
What Can You Do To Prevent Sleep Apnea?
Besides the treatment options, there are a few lifestyle changes that you can make to prevent the occurrence of sleep apnea and the resulting health risks associated. One change, is reducing your alcohol intake. Alcohol can cause you to wake up many of times during the night and also can cause the muscles at the back of your throat to relax.
As these muscles relax, they are unable to keep the airway open. So, you might want to take a pass on alcohol to reduce sleep apnea. The other major lifestyle change which can help many people, is losing weight. Losing weight can actually cure sleep apnea for some people.
Can a Fawcett Mattress help?
Can a Fawcett mattress cure sleep apnea? We’re going to have to say no. However, if side sleeping can help you, then maybe a plush Fawcett Mattress could reduce your chances for sleep apnea. Our picks would be the Fawcett Model 9, or perhaps our Model 7. If we can help make it easier for you to side sleep, then maybe that could alleviate sleep apnea too. But remember, speak to your physician first!
One thing’s for sure…getting a new mattress that helps you sleep better, can’t be a bad move.