How often do you wonder about your sleep quality? Do you know how many sleep stages we cycle during sleep and what stands behind an innocent snoring sound? If these questions triggered you to learn more about your sleep, get to know what’s obstructive sleep apnea and how you can improve sleep habits – you’re on the right way. Here we’ll tell you the most common OSA causes, symptoms and answer the question – what does obstructive apnea mean?
What is OSA?
Sleep apnea is a condition of interrupted breathing during sleep. It has three types: obstructive, central, and mixed. The most common one is obstructive apnea (aka OSA). It occurs when your throat muscles (namely, the tongue and soft palate) relax for some time and block the airways. The blockade may last several seconds or up to a minute. As a result, the person starts snoring and may wake up.
Even short-term obstruction without awakening lowers the quality of your sleep. It, in turn, affects your productivity and general condition during the day. Most typical obstructive sleep apnea causes in adults are overweight and softened tissues of the throat. Children can be at risk of an obstructive sleep apnea syndrome if they have enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In some cases, OSA can be the signal for a tumor.
Anyway, you always take control of your sleep. Timely identification of the symptoms and further treatment can easily eliminate the disorder.
Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms
OSA symptoms can be seen both asleep and awake. Sleep symptoms include any complications of breathing (snoring, choking, stopped breathing, etc.), turning, waking up, sharp body movements and even need to use the toilet at night. Awake signs may involve any post-sleep discomfort, such as headache, sleepiness or fatigue, poor memory and concentration, irritation, loss of sexual desire, and heartburn.
Obstructive sleep apnea and obesity often go hand in hand. A great number of OSA events happen to people who are overweight. It’s quite logical because excessive fat in the neck area can press on other tissues and narrow the airways, leading to OSA breathing. Thus, breathing can be complicated when the person is active during the day as well as when the body is relaxed during sleep.
People tend to underestimate the severity of the obstructive apnea disease as many of its symptoms are considered as temporary or not bothering enough. Such an attitude can lead to serious long-term results influencing various organ systems. Left untreated, obstructive apnea effects can develop into chronic health problems, like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression etc.
Having OSA? It’s time to mobilize
To prove this claim, let’s consider a simple physiological chain. OSA harms the normal flow of respiratory processes in our body. Respiratory processes control the income of oxygen. Oxygen is necessary for the normal work of all body parts, in particular heart and brain.
Obesity, obstructive sleep apnea and stroke seem to be very close friends. It’s been researched that OSA is one of the main harbingers of brain attacks, alongside with overweight.
After all these deterrents you may ask ‘can OSA be cured?’ and we say ‘yes, it can’. Furthermore, it’s very adapted and flexible. Nowadays, obstructive apnea detection can be done even at home with the use of special equipment that monitors your sleep overnight.
Nevertheless, the best cure for any disease is prevention. Now you know how to prevent obstructive sleep apnea. Even small steps like, eating healthy food, doing exercises, active lifestyle, sleep monitoring and consulting the doctor may be crucial.