If you’ve been feeling tired and run down and just can’t seem to figure out why, you may be suffering from sleep apnea. Apnea is a condition that occurs when there are brief interruptions in breathing while asleep. It is fairly common with the American Sleep Apnea Association reporting an estimated 22 million Americans to have the condition, but 80 percent of those with apnea are undiagnosed. Diagnosing apnea is difficult because most sleep apnea symptoms occur while you’re asleep. However, there are some that are experienced during the day, such as daytime fatigue and loss of productivity. If you’ve been battling fatigue and just can’t seem to figure out why, we have the facts you need to know about apnea.
The Impact of Sleep Apnea
The most common type of apnea is a result of an obstruction or abnormality of the airway that causes breathing to pause frequently for as much as 30 seconds while sleeping. When left untreated, serious and potentially deadly complications can occur. However, while apnea causes loud snoring, waking frequently during the night, and chocking and gagging while asleep, many don’t notice these symptoms.
Many people believe the symptoms are only apparent while you are asleep, but this isn’t the case. Due to the interruptions in breathing, you’re not able to reach and maintain REM sleep, causing you to experience symptoms throughout the day. With the frequent disruptions to REM, you’ll often experience irritability, fatigue, headaches, decreased productivity, and an overall decline in quality of life.
Untreated apnea and the disruption of REM sleeping will eventually lead to sleep deprivation. Once deprivation occurs, your memory, mood, and cognition will decline. Your ability to remain energized and productive throughout the day will become more of a challenge. The decreased ability to stay alert and aware throughout the day is proven to increase the risk for accidents and near-accidents, such as when driving a car or while at work.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the daytime symptoms of apnea, as well as loud chronic snoring, poor sleep quality, morning headaches, and waking with shortness of breath, you may be experiencing sleep apnea symptoms. Any of these could point to the condition, which will require the proper diagnosis and treatment to protect your quality of life and overall health.
Treating Sleep Apnea
If you suspect you may have apnea, your dentist or doctor will refer you to undergo a sleep study. A sleep study will monitor you while you sleep to look for signs of abnormality. Should the study find the condition to be present, you will require treatment. Most often, a CPAP machine is used to maintain airflow while sleeping. The device is worn at night to deliver a steady stream of air to keep passages open, decreasing the occurrence of breathing interruptions.
Apnea is a condition that needs to be taken seriously because if not treated, it increases the risk for stroke, heart failure, and many other complications. If you suspect you may have apnea, please call us at (323) 621-3730 to schedule a consultation.