Think You Have Sleep Apnea?
Do you wake up every morning feeling like you haven’t gotten enough sleep?
Does your significant other claim that you snore a lot? If so, the problem might be sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects over 18 million adults nationwide, and falls into two general categories:
- Central sleep apnea, which is the result of your brain not sending the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing
- Obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when your throat muscles relax too much during sleep.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Loud snoring.
- Extreme sleepiness during the day.
- Interrupted breathing during sleep. Usually, this will be seen by someone else who shares your bed.
- Morning headaches.
- Awakening at night with shortness of breath.
If you have symptoms that point to sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause fatigue, putting you at risk for accidents while you are driving or operating heavy machinery at work. Over time, it can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other complications.
How to Treat Sleep Apnea
Sometimes, sleep apnea can be treated through lifestyle changes. It’s closely associated with obesity, and many people find relief by losing weight. In other cases, avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sedatives can help. If lifestyle changes do not have an effect, the answer can lie in medical help. A few common sleep apnea treatment options:
- CPAP machines. These are breathing machines that deliver a constant airflow while you sleep. This keeps airways open and can give immediate relief.
BPAP devices. These are similar to CPAP machines, but, many patients find them less invasive.
- Mandibular repositioning devices. These move your tongue and lower jaw to keep your airways open.
- Herbal remedies and acupuncture. Some people find relief by taking herbs like valerian and hops or through acupuncture treatments.
- Surgery. Removing or shrinking tissue can help open your airways. There are a number of options that vary in complexity. Your doctor can tell you whether these are good choices for you.
The Key Takeaways
- Sleep apnea can lead to sleep deprivation, which can cause you to be fatigued during the day.
- Herbal remedies and acupuncture may help.
- Often, sleep apnea can be treated through lifestyle changes. Avoiding caffeine, alcohol and sedatives, losing weight and getting plenty of exercise can all help.
- Talk to your doctor about your sleep apnea. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues.
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