What is sleep apnea and what causes it?

What is sleep apnea and what causes it?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects a person’s sleeping capability by interrupting the natural flow of air in the respiratory system whenever a person is asleep. It’s not something that can just be shooed away or set aside. It’s a serious condition that may be troublesome to the health of a person.

Everyone knows that breathing is an involuntary natural process in the body. Our respiratory system takes in oxygen and expels carbon dioxide as a natural physical occurrence that doesn’t need a constant reminder to the brain. Now, when a person is sleeping, they won’t actually know what’s going on around them or to them, but breathing continues in a slightly more relaxed way.

Sleep apnea is a phenomenon wherein a person isn’t able to breathe normally while sleeping. Now, that’s a very unfair condition because you won’t know it’s happening to you because you’re asleep. What sleep apnea does is that it essentially lessens the flow of oxygen through your system because there’s a blockage in your airway or a fault in the breathing centers of the brain.

The types of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea isn’t the same for all people. It has the same consequence, but the cause might be different. These are the two types of sleep apnea that may affect people when they are sleeping:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

This type of sleep apnea is actually the most common. It happens when a fractional jam in the upper respiratory tract occurs. The soft tissue that’s located in the rear section of the throat partially gives way or collapses during sleep. These could happen occasionally or it could be a frequent event for a person.

When such happens, the diaphragm and the muscles of the chest would exert more effort in order to encourage more oxygen into the lungs. It’s a compensatory mechanism that would preserve the normalcy of a person’s functioning.

The effect of these mechanisms that act against OSA is the effort to breathe more in order to get more oxygen through that fractional block. Loud gasps would occur. Snorting or harsh snoring would also be a symptom. In some cases, the body would fully react to the trouble that it’s experiencing and jerk itself in an effort to normalize everything.

  1. Central Sleep Apnea

This type of sleep apnea isn’t caused by any physical blockage due to relaxed muscles or tissue. It’s actually scarier than that. This one occurs when the brain actually misses to instruct the respiratory to work, resulting in an inability to breathe.

Central sleep apnea is usually linked to a medical condition such as kidney failure, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, congestive heart failure or even stroke. Those who are at more risk of having central sleep apnea are the male gender, those who are overweight and those whose age are at 40 years and above.

The effects of sleep apnea

If any person is observed to have the symptoms of sleep apnea, they should address it by having it checked or modifying their lifestyle to assume a practice of living healthily. If anyone doesn’t address it, they’d be more at risk of getting some serious health deficits and conditions, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Short bursts of hyperactivity, then fatigue
  • Frequent bouts with tiredness
  • Irregular heart beating patterns
  • Any serious heart condition such as heart attacks
  • An increase in blood pressure levels
  • Stroke

These are just some of the worsening physical consequences if a person has sleep apnea. As a sad bonus sleep apnea that untreated could become a catalyst for a person’s decrease in efficacy when doing activities of daily living. Working or concentrating at school would be a difficult task for such individuals. Lower spans of attention and focus can also be observed as an effect of the lack of oxygen during sleep, thus putting people in danger of accidents.

So, if you have observed someone or if someone has observed you to show symptoms of sleep apnea, then you should consult a physician for treatment. You could also make some lifestyle changes in order to put your physical body into a renewed state of health.

Comment 1

  1. Mama Munchkin October 11, 2016

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