Loud snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, even after a full night’s sleep, are signs that you may have sleep apnea Houston – a potentially severe sleep disorder whereby breathing stops and starts. The most common symptom of this sleep disorder is snoring, but not everyone who snores has sleep apnea. Below are the types and causes of sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form, which occurs when your throat muscles overly relax. The muscles at the back of your throat support the uvula, soft palate, tonsils, tongue, and the side walls of your throat. When these muscles relax, airways become narrow or close as you inhale, limiting airflow. Due to limited oxygen supply, oxygen levels in your blood decrease, and carbon dioxide levels build up.
Your brain senses the impairment in your breathing and awakens you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway. As you wake up, you may choke, snort, or gasp; the awakening is usually so brief that you can’t remember it happening. Your brain can arouse you from your sleep up to 30 times or more every hour, affecting your ability to enjoy deep, restful phases of sleep.
Central sleep apnea
Central sleep apnea is a rare sleep disorder; it occurs when your brain fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles, meaning you don’t breathe for a short period. As a result, you may awaken with shortness of breath or have trouble falling or staying asleep.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Most people with obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea have signs and symptoms such as:
- Morning headache
- Loud snoring
- Choking, snorting, or gasping for air
- Dry mouth after sleeping at night
- Episodes of not breathing (This is usually reported by someone else)
- Daytime sleepiness
Establishing whether you have obstructive or central sleep apnea based on the symptoms can be challenging. That is because the signs and symptoms of these two sleep disorders usually overlap.
Risk factors for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can affect anyone regardless of age and fitness level. However, certain factors make you more susceptible to this disorder. They include:
- Gender. Sleep apnea is more common in men than women; men are two to three times as likely to have this sleep disorder. However, the risk for sleep apnea in women tends to rise after menopause and if they are overweight.
- Obesity. Excess body weight means fat deposits around your upper airways, which can obstruct breathing. Losing extra weight and staying within your ideal weight can help you reduce your risk for sleep apnea.
- Neck circumference. Individuals with thicker necks have narrow airways, meaning they inhale less air than the average person. A narrowed airway can be inherited or may be due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. The latter is especially true in children.
- Medical conditions. The risk of sleep apnea is higher in people with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, and Parkinson’s disease.
For further sleep apnea questions, consult your Houston Sinus Surgery doctor.