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What Causes Sleep Apnea?
People dealing with sleep apnea have trouble sleeping because their sleep is constantly interrupted due to a temporary failure to breathe while asleep. When their brain realizes that they are not breathing, they are awoken and the cycle repeats itself throughout the night. Due to the constant interruption of sleep, sleep apnea patients are left tired during the day, which affects their physical and mental health.
What are the health factors that cause sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is caused by a variety of reasons, which include:
- Excess weight and obesity
- Enlarged tonsils
- Bite problems
- Birth defects like Down syndrome
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Headaches in the morning
- Loud snoring
- Dry mouth in the morning
- Trouble staying awake during the day
- Lack of focus
What are the different types of sleep apnea?
The three main types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea
This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It causes breathing to start and stop repeatedly during sleep because the throat muscles relax and block the airway while sleeping.
Central sleep apnea
This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs because the throat muscles relax while sleeping, central sleep apnea can occur as a result of other health problems like heart failure and stroke.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome
This is a rare form of sleep apnea that occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Health risks associated with sleep apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health risks, including:
Heart problems and high blood pressure
The sudden drops in the blood oxygen levels caused by sleep apnea can increase blood pressure and also put a strain on the cardiovascular system. This puts the patient at increased risk of high blood pressure.
Fatigue during the day
Waking up repeatedly at night makes it difficult to get a good night’s rest and makes the sleep apnea patient groggy during the day, which increases their irritability. People with sleep apnea also have difficulty concentrating and sometimes fall asleep at work or at school. Sleep apnea patients have an increased risk of getting into car accidents because they are likely to fall asleep behind the wheel.
Type 2 diabetes
People who have sleep apnea are likely to develop resistance to insulin, which puts them at risk of having Type 2 diabetes.
Complications during surgery
Sleep apnea patients who have to undergo surgery or take medication for other health conditions are likely to have complications because of the reaction between the medication they are taking and the general anesthesia used. The fact that they are prone to breathing problems, especially when they are sedated and sleeping on their backs, can also lead to complications during surgery.
The bottom line
Sleep apnea makes it difficult for people to get a good night’s rest, which impacts their daily lives and can lead to serious health problems. If you wake up repeatedly while sleeping or snore loudly, schedule an appointment with your health care provider to find out if you have sleep apnea and immediately begin treatment.
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