All about the Sleep Apnea Symptoms: What You Need to Know

All about the Sleep Apnea Symptoms: What You Need to Know

Sleep apnea has been a strange and somewhat mysterious affliction for a long time in human history. Some people confuse this with just difficult bouts of snoring and heavy breathing during sleep, but sleep apnea is something different all together, and much more serious than that. Anthropologists believe that this nightmarish state could possibly be the origin of both beliefs in supernatural entities (as sometimes this state of sleep paralysis can come with sensing an “evil” presence in the room or even hallucinating some shapes) and of out of body experiences. But before we move on to scientifically explaining what this sleep disorder is all about, let’s start by detailing what the sleep apnea symptoms consist of, so that you can properly assess whether or not you may be suffering from it.

What are the sleep apnea symptoms?

Sleep apnea (or sleep apnoea as it’s sometimes called) is a form of sleep disorder where the sleeping person suffers from pauses in breathing or episodes of shallow and infrequent breathing. Such a pause – called an apnea – can last from a few seconds to several minutes (which you can imagine can get quite dangerous) and it may occur 5 to 30 times an hour. There are three main types of sleep apnea: central (also abbreviated to CSA), obstructive (OSA) and mixed or complex (with sleep apnea symptoms from both previously enumerated branches). Usually, the person suffering from any form of apnea isn’t aware of having difficulties breathing, and is diagnosed only through other people observing them while they sleep, or by a doctor noticing the effects of the disease on the body.

Sleep apnea can effect both adults and children (including babies). Obviously, this is a major source of concern for parents, but the good news is that there are ways to alleviate the symptoms of this disorder (see below). For now, let us resume describing the main sleep apnea symptoms and their effects. First of all, you should know that the episodes of reduced or absent breathing can greatly increase the levels of carbon dioxide in the blood stream, which leads to daytime sleepiness and fatigue. This can go on for decades without the person suffering from it knowing why they feel so tired all the time, and over time all that extra carbon dioxide in the blood can start to affect the internal organs which are not receiving enough oxygen. The most severe of the three is OSA (obstructive sleep apnea), which can lead to diabetes and even death.

A weirder symptom of this disease is suddenly waking up in the middle of the night with sleep paralysis, although not everyone suffering from sleep apnea also exhibits this symptom. Sleep paralysis manifests by allowing the mind to be aware of its surroundings, while trapped in a body which the patient feels unable to control. Most of the times, the person can’t even open their eyes, but they feel like they can glimpse shadows and objects in the room through half-open eyes. Since this unusual state of altered consciousness can induce extreme fear and a feeling of discomfort, some people also experience hallucinations of a malevolent presence in the room, or experience the impression that they manage to get up from bed and float out of their bodies before waking up completely. All in all, this is the weirdest of all the sleep apnea symptoms one can have.

The good news about all this is that there is a test which can diagnose this condition fairly accurately, called a polysomnogram, or a so-called “sleep study”. A blood test can also determine whether you have unusual levels of carbon dioxide in your body or not, which can at least give you a hint in the right direction. If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnea symptoms, talk to your doctor and take the blood test first, followed by the sleep study if the blood work confirms a need for it.

How to alleviate the sleep apnea symptoms

The starting point for the treatment of this disease is behavioral therapy: the patients are told to avoid alcohol and sedatives (such as sleeping pills) and the signs of sleep apnea usually disappear by themselves if the person starts enjoying a healthier lifestyle. (As a hint, if you know you eat of lot of junk food or smoke, try the lemonade detox diet at least for 3 days or so, and then eat healthier after you resume a regular meal plan.) The Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study (1993) estimated that 9% of women and 24% of men in the USA are suffering from at least a mild form of undiagnosed sleep apnea, which leads to associated health problems and medical costs. This is usually solved, as already stated above, by simply adopting a healthier lifestyle. When that fails, the quickest way to solve this is to use a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device when sleeping, which involved wearing a mask that makes sure your airways are as open as possible during sleep.

A more drastic, but permanent way to deal with the harmful sleep apnea symptoms is to have surgery in order to remove whatever small parts are obstructing the breathing. This is a last resort option, but some procedures are mild enough not to count as invasive surgery. One such mild approach is the Pillar Procedure, approved by the FDA in 2004.

But one problem remains when it comes to treating sleep apnea symptoms in kids: there is no alcohol or sleeping pills to cut from their lifestyle, and parents are understandably opposed to using invasive methods such as surgery when the treatment of an infant is concerned. The good news is that your baby may not be suffering from this disease at all, even if you suspect it: many times, suspicions of this disease in babies and toddlers are simply in the mind of tired and frightened parents. Still, if you’re fairly certain you have seen you child stop breathing during sleep, then refer to your pediatrician for advice and also read this official guide to alleviating the sleep apnea symptoms for the little ones.

The following two tabs change content below.
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!

David

  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!
  • Share On Facebook
  • Share On Twitter
  • Pin it!

Latest posts by David (see all)

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This