Sleep Apnea 101: Warning Signs and Indicators That You Need To Take Your Apnea Seriously – 2024 Guide

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Be honest with yourself for a moment: Has there been a moment in the past when you woke yourself up, or you irritated your partner by the sound of snoring? While many of us are guilty of this situation at some point in our adult lives, it could be an indication that something more severe is occurring below the surface.

Sleep apnea is a medical term used for patients whose breathing becomes obstructed during their sleep. Prolonged sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues that plague the patient’s waking hours and quality of life.

If you or someone you know is woken up from their slumber regularly from their snoring habits, here’s what you need to know.

Sleep Apnea Defined

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Sleep apnea is a multi-faceted issue consisting of three separate diagnoses: central sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. In the example we used above, we described a case of obstructive sleep apnea, where the patient’s airway was blocked off during resting hours.

While this is often the most common form of apnea that patient’s deal with, it’s only the beginning of the story.

Obstructive cases are defined by excessive snoring, combined with sensations of choking or waking up gasping for air. During the obstructive phase, air cannot pass into the lungs or drive blood throughout the major organs in the patient’s body.

After a short period of this sensation, the patient often finds themselves shooting up out of bed in a panic, unable to catch their breath. In some instances, patients report an experience comparable to choking on their saliva accompanied by dread and anxiety.

Central Sleep Apnea

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One of the fundamental components of breathing is the signals sent by the brain that tell the lungs to ingest air. Without this vital signal in place, the lungs and other organs responsible for oxygen inhalation fail to engage. While this is a somewhat rare condition, medical professionals refer to the experience as central sleep apnea.

Like obstructive sleep apnea, central apnea has side effects that overflow into the waking hours of the patient’s life. While these are by no means a comprehensive list of symptoms associated with central sleep apnea, they’re warning signs that something is occurring below the surface:

  • Inability to sleep
  • Grogginess and brain fog
  • Low inhibition and lackluster fitness
  • Headaches and pains upon waking
  • Emotional instability
  • Excessive snoring and restlessness
  • Pain in the chest when lying down

As you can see, central sleep apnea is not a condition to ignore. If left untreated, central sleep apnea can lead to life-threatening issues, such as arrhythmias, increased risk for a heart attack and stroke potential.

Complex Sleep Apnea

Complex sleep apnea is when a patient showcases symptoms that fall into the category of both central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea. These patients’ lives and waking hours become riddled with negative side effects that dictate and influence almost every area of their day.

From the always-tired sensation that prevents them from tackling their goals and ambitions to the inability to focus on demanding workplace tasks, complex sleep apnea patients are looking for an answer to their problems.

At-Home Solutions for Apnea

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While sleep apnea seems like a daunting experience to deal with, patients can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Through a combination of behavioral changes and life modifications, patients can reduce the negative symptoms they experience and gain restful sleep as a result.

First, we encourage you to take a newfound approach to your health and fitness. New data suggests that individuals who have gained excess weight in the past are at higher risk of suffering from sleep apnea than their health-conscious counterparts.

When a person begins to pack on pounds through their dietary habits, a fatty deposit known as pharyngeal fat surrounds the patient’s upper neck and airway.

During sleep, when the muscles in the neck become relaxed, the pharyngeal fat presses on the airway, causing airflow obstruction and blockage. While the most common side effect is excessive snoring, it can lead to severe issues when left unchecked.

Here are some suggestions that readers can use in the comfort of their own home to make sure sleep apnea remains at bay:

  • Walk to nearby locations instead of driving
  • Cook your meals instead of opting for fast-food options
  • Dedicate a few days from each week for exercise
  • Stay hydrated and diminish your consumption of sugary drinks
  • Incorporate leafy greens, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates into each meal
  • Avoid medications and drugs that contain opioids, as these cause apnea-inducing scenarios

When Should You Worry if You Suffer From Sleep Apnea?

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Medical doctors and healthcare professionals frequently tell patients they should take their sleep apnea seriously when there are thirty or more episodes during an hour.

Sleep experts use a measuring system referred to as the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). In a general sense, this measurement counts the number of times a patient’s breathing stops or diminishes during their restful hours.

Once this number reaches or surpasses thirty episodes per hour during a sleep study, the patient falls within the ‘severe’ category. At this point, your apnea should be monitored by the medically-trained eye of a healthcare professional. Moreover, patients are suggested to visit a specialist when their quality of life reduces.

If your apnea has gotten to the point where your livelihood is being negatively impacted, it’s time to reach out to a Princeton ENT doctor. These individuals are highly trained and skilled at treating apnea in all its iterations. Find out more by clicking this link:

If you’re the type of person that wants the most out of their life, getting quality rest and recovery are essential. Allow the ENT doctors working in Princeton to guide you back onto the right path today!