While snoring is quite normal, it's actually one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that halts or slows down your breathing when you sleep.
It's a health problem that is quite common in Europe, with the European Sleep Apnoea Database stating that the sleep disorder affected patients in over 22 major European cities. The most prominent city that suffers from a high proportion of people with sleep apnea is in fact, Brussels.
The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the muscles in your throat relax. The other more extreme cases are Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), when the brain is unable to send signals to your breathing muscles, and Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome, which is a combination of the first two.
For such a serious health problem, its causes and consequences are relatively unfamiliar to most people. Some may not even realise that they are already suffering from the disorder, and if not treated, can lead to it worsening over time.
To give you an overview, here is some information on sleep apnea.
Symptoms and Causes
Medical News Today lists the many symptoms as frequent abrupt awakenings, waking up with a dry or sore throat, morning headaches, and insomnia. Even your emotional stability can also be affected by sleep apnea.
When it comes to what causes sleep apnea, there are three main causes. The first is muscular changes, more so when these changes reduce your airways, disrupting your breathing while you sleep. Another is physical obstruction, specifically when the tissues in your throat thicken or stored fat that blocks your airways, restricting airflow in and out of your body. And finally, when your brain isn't functioning properly, it is unable to send the right neurosignals leading to complications in your breathing. These bodily changes can eventually lead to sleep apnea, making way for more life-threatening consequences.
According to the Harvard Health, sleep apnea can have a massive impact on your health and life in general. They highlighted the major consequences of the sleep disorder, which includes serious illnesses such as heart disease and strokes.
Approximately 50% of people suffering from sleep apnea have hypertension. Treatment for sleep apnea can usually cure hypertension as well. Conversely, elevated blood pressure can also be seen as a symptom of the sleeping disorder.
A graph published in the aforementioned Harvard Health article showed that obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) increases your risk of a stroke, highlighting the various degrees of the illness and how each compares to one another. It can also significantly complicate and delay your recovery process afterwards. Additionally, strokes can make you more prone to experiencing the sleep disorder.
Similar to other sleep disorders, sleep apnea can lead to type 2 diabetes. Research has indicated that high blood sugar levels are common among people suffering from sleep apnea. Treatment for sleep apnea can go a long way to lowering your glucose levels.
4. Premature Death
Since sleep apnea can cause a lead to a number of life-threatening illnesses, it increases your likelihood of a premature death as well. The most prone to this are middle-aged men, the most common cause being cardiovascular problems.
What You Can do to Avoid/Treat Sleep Apnea
There are many things you can do to combat sleep apnea and avoid its more dangerous consequences. One of them is exercising, which has been proven to be an effective antidote to other sleeping problems as well. Sleeping is an integral of everyday life in order for us to function to the best of our abilities. To combat health problems such as sleep apnea and obesity it's important that you keep fit, and the hope is it will have a positive impact on your sleeping habits. Fitness expert Jim White told Leesa, "Sleeping well can decrease your appetite, and getting really fatigued puts you at an increased risk of obesity and cardiovascular issues." He explained that both sleep and exercise compliment each other in combating health problems, and more importantly improving overall wellbeing.
If you don't have a partner who can monitor your sleep habits and to see if you are showing signs of sleep apnea, you should look to get advice from a professional. Most hospitals are now able to undertake sleep studies which will give you a definitive answer on whether you're suffering from a sleep disorder or not.
Medical professionals use Meditech apneABP for pre-screeing sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is an independent risk factor for hypertension and it increases the risk of sleep-related traffic accidents. Meditech apneABP combines an ambulatory blood pressure monitor with a pulse oximeter and records all-day blood pressure and apnoe events. Data are analysed by a software package, which provides a report summary at the end of the monitoring period.