Sleep apnea is one of the most common problems with sleep disorders today, but many don't yet know it. While many people may be aware that they have a sleep disorder, they don't take it seriously and don't know that sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems.
What is apnea?
Sleep apnea syndrome (sleep apnea syndrome, hereinafter referred to as SAS), also known as sleep apnea hypopnea syndrome, usually refers to the repeated occurrence of apnea and hypopnea more than 30 times during 7 hours of sleep per night, or Sleep apnea-hypopnea index ≥ 5 times/h. Often due to long-term repeated hypoxia, it is easy to be combined with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, etc., which seriously endangers human health.
Sleep apnea is characterized by frequent breaks or pauses in breathing during sleep, and there are three forms of sleep apnea: central sleep apnea, in which the pauses are due to the brain's failure to signal the respiratory system to breathe; obstructive sleep apnea, in which breathing is caused by Interruption by physical obstruction of the upper airway, usually caused by the soft tissue of the throat and tongue collapsing into the airway; and mixed sleep apnea, which is a combination of central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.
While obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common sleep apnea, accounting for about 85% of cases, central sleep apnea is less than 1%.
What are the signs and symptoms of apnea?
In many people's minds, snoring is a very normal thing, often saying "too tired", "good sleep quality", etc. However, the truth is that snoring is sometimes a manifestation of disease , nor is it a sign of good sleep quality. Although snoring is common, if the frequency of snoring is too rapid and disruptive, it may be sleep apnea syndrome.
2. Decreased sleep quality, increased nocturia, fatigue
While it may be considered adequate sleep during the night because of 7-9 hours of sleep in bed, all these pauses and disruptions in sleep can lead to a substantial loss of quality and quantity of sleep at night. One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness, which is characterized by prolonged daytime fatigue. Common symptoms of sleep apnea are difficulty waking up in the morning, feeling overly tired throughout the day, general lack of energy, needing or frequent naps that only partially (or not at all) relieve symptoms, dozing off at inappropriate times, and difficulty concentrating energy. Daytime sleepiness can even lead to serious accidents or even death, especially if the patient is driving or working on or around heavy equipment or machinery.
3. Morning headache and dry mouth
People with sleep apnea often report headaches and less oxygen entering the brain when breathing is often stopped at night. Low oxygen levels cause blood vessels to dilate and can cause vascular headaches. Along with excessive daytime sleepiness, headaches are often the most common complaint of sleep apnea sufferers because they may not be aware that they are snoring or breathing interruptions. At the same time, because it is accompanied by apnea, it will cause symptoms such as dry mouth and sore mouth.
Sleep apnea is often associated with high blood pressure, and many people experience headaches due to frequent pauses in sleep and may develop high blood pressure. When the brain wakes up from sleep because it realizes it isn't receiving enough oxygen levels in the blood, blood pressure spikes as it restricts the blood vessels and begins to get the system back to work. When this happens repeatedly throughout the night to combat each apnea event, the body gets used to having to restrict its blood vessels, and high blood pressure starts to persist even on the day of normal breathing.
5. Being overweight or obese
Weight and sleep apnea are directly linked to obstructive sleep apnea in many cases, and people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop sleep apnea than people who maintain a healthy weight. Sleep apnea is often caused by excess fatty tissue that builds up in the neck and throat. Excess tissue during sleep may fall back into the airways, causing airway obstruction and leading to apnea events. If the neck circumference is greater than 17 inches in men and 16 inches in women, there is a higher risk of sleep apnea due to the buildup of fatty tissue around the airways, which can lead to restricted breathing during sleep.
6. Anxiety, depression, bad mood
Lack of sleep can affect a person's mood, and having insomnia almost every night can make people more restless, prone to anxiety, short-tempered, and depressed for extended periods of time. If you think your mood swings or depression may be caused by lack of sleep, you need to contact a professional doctor to see if it is related to a sleep disorder. In addition to these signs and symptoms to see if we have apnea syndrome, we can also determine whether there is apnea by our blood oxygen value. Apnea can lead to hypoxia, which typically results in a decrease in oxygen saturation in the blood. People who have difficulty breathing during sleep (sleep apnea, COPD) often have low levels of oxygen in their blood. Normal blood oxygen levels should be between 94% and 98%. Your sleep apnea oxygen level will drop to 80% or lower due to 30 seconds or more of apnea during sleep. Any oxygen level below 90% is dangerous to your body and requires intervention.
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How to improve or treat sleep apnea?
Mild patients are encouraged to lose weight, exercise more, improve physical fitness, avoid prolonged supine lying, and inject corticosteroids into the nose to ensure the airway is unobstructed. Oxygen therapy can be given if necessary.
Pharyngeal tissue relaxation, drooping palate, and tonsillar hypertrophy lead to respiratory infarction, and surgical treatment is feasible.
Central patients, under the premise of active treatment of underlying diseases, can be given aminophylline, medroxyprogesterone, protriptyline, etc. to improve the driving force of the respiratory center.
In severe cases with respiratory failure, short-term artificial mechanical ventilation can be used, and those with other comorbidities should be treated accordingly.
Therefore, if you have the above symptoms, please pay attention and seek medical advice if necessary.