If you think you might suffer from sleep apnea, you should probably set up an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. They will be able to refer to a sleep specialist who might want you to undergo a sleep study and other types of tests to find out if this is really the case.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
One of the most common types of symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. However, not everyone that snores has sleep apnea. Now, having said that, if snoring is paired with any of the following symptoms then you will want to have it looked at.
- Loud snoring as mentioned
- Pauses in breathing for 20 to 30 seconds
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Headaches in the morning
- Fatigue during the day
- Possibly insomnia or not being able to stay asleep at night
- Dry mouth and a sore throat in the morning
- Trouble focusing or concentrating
- Problems remembering or learning things
- Generally irritability, moodiness or depression
Higher Risk Patients
Sleep apnea does not only affect older men. There are a few factors that could make you more susceptible to sleep apnea. They are as follows:
- Excessive weight – BMI of 25 or higher or considered overweight. The more weight you have, the more at risk you are.
- Large neck – large necks have more tissues that block the airways. This is more than 17 inches for men and more than 16 inches for women.
- Older age – while sleep apnea is more common in men over 40 and women over 50, it can affect younger people to.
- Being male – sleep apnea occurs twice as much in men than women but women can still get it.
- Smoker – if you smoke you have a much higher risk of getting sleep apnea
- High blood pressure – being hypertensive is a common symptom of people with sleep apnea.
- Family history – if someone else in your family suffers from sleep apnea, it could be likely that you have it.
Treatments for Sleep Apnea
If it is determined that you do indeed have sleep apnea, there are several courses of action you can take to treat it.
- Your doctor may suggest life style changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking.
- Cpap machines are a common remedy. There are several types of cpap machines that can be used. Home sleep tests will determine which cpap machine will be best for you.
- Nasal pillows or nasal dilators are also an option.
- You may be prescribed medicine that will help you stay awake during the day to help you sleep better at night.
- In severe case, surgery may be necessary.
When to Contact a Doctor About Sleep Apnea
Many people live with this condition, not really considering how much better their quality of life could be if they would see a doctor and have it treated. Here is a list of times that a doctor should be involved:
- If you snore loudly and heavily accompanied by feeling tired during the day.
- If your partner says you stop breathing, choke or gasp during the night.
- If you find yourself falling asleep while eating, driving or even talking.
- If you are restless, wake up often accompanied by feeling sleeping during the day.
How to Prevent Sleep Apnea
Seeping pills and sedatives are not recommended if you think you may have sleep apnea. You might feel like you need them in order to get a full nights sleep but the problem with these things is that they relax your throat muscles, which causes your airway to collapse as well slow down your breathing. You will also want to make sure that you are eating a balanced, nutritious diet as well as exercising in order to stay at a healthy weight. Smoking is definitely not a good idea. Nicotine causes throat muscles to relax as well, making these muscles more prone to collapsing when you lay down.
Sleep apnea is considered a sleep disorder and should not be ignored if you think you might fit in to one or more of these categories. While there are things you can do personally, you should still retain the advice of a medical professional and find out if you need a cpap machine or some sort of mask until you are able to bring your body to a healthy place where you no longer need those items.