When you think snoring is just a joke, think of this: There are 22 million people in the United States who suffer from sleep apnea. Of those who suffer from sleep apnea, 80% have moderate or severe cases and don’t even know it. This isn’t a joke and it is important to understand how to recognize symptoms and what steps to take to prevent further complications.
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that prevents airflow during sleep. When the tissue in the back of the throat collapses temporarily it blocks the airway and prevents air from getting into the lungs. As a result, your blood-oxygen level drops. And when it drops low enough, your body begins to wake itself up. This happens so quickly that you might not even remember waking up almost 100 times a night. No wonder you’re so tired.
To help you understand OSA more, here are some of the signs and symptoms you might be exhibiting so pay close attention:
- Clouded memory.
- Personality changes.
- Morning headaches.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Gasping or choking during the night.
- Non-refreshed sleep.
- Fragmented sleep.
When your body subconsciously wakes up hundreds of times a night, it can disrupt normal sleep patterns. It can even make you feel exhausted and unrefreshed day in and day out. And when you add in frequent snoring, it can lead to even more health issues, such as heart disease, stroke or type 2 diabetes.
What are the negative effects of sleep apnea?
As we mentioned above, if you suffer from OSA, it can increase your risk for stroke, heart problems, high blood pressure, obesity and type 2 diabetes. The list can go on and on. Sleep apnea even leads to a higher chance for work and driving-related injuries. To add to that, studies have identified that sleep apnea is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
When your weight continues to increase, it can also lead to a higher risk for sleep apnea because excess tissue in the back of the throat can narrow and block the airway even more than it already is. But the good news is that if you visit Dr. Fuller at her practice in Greensboro, you can be treated for sleep apnea with a comfortable oral appliance to open the airway.