If you have trouble getting a quality night’s sleep, the problem may be sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can deprive you of the ability to breathe properly at night, causing loud snoring and other symptoms that derive from not getting enough sleep. To treat this complex disorder, the first step is to understand it, how it works, and why it takes a toll on your ability to live life to the fullest.
How Does Sleep Apnea Affect You?
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This form of sleep apnea is characterized by a blockage that is preventing air from reaching your lungs at night. This may be caused by an enlarged tongue, excess tissue, or other reasons, but ultimately, the blockage prevents breathing which causes the patient to wake up many times throughout the night. The first sign of sleep apnea is typically the loud snoring that’s associated with the disorder.
Understanding the 3 Types of Sleep Apnea
While OSA is the most common and simplest type of sleep apnea, there are two other variations. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a disorder that produces lapses in breathing at night, but the difference is that it’s not caused by a physical obstruction, but by a failure of the brain to send the appropriate signal to initiate the breath. Complex sleep apnea is another serious variation that is essentially a combination of OSA and CSA.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Sleep apnea is often associated with obesity, and while that is a huge risk factor, some cases have nothing to do with obesity. To get a better idea if you may have sleep apnea, consider these risk factors that are commonly associated with the disorder.
- Being a male increases risk of sleep apnea
- Patients over 40 are at a greater risk
- A large neck can increase the risk
- Being overweight is a major risk factor
- Tonsils or tongue that is larger than normal
- A small jawbone is a risk factor