Figuratively, people love that moment when someone or something takes their breath away. But it’s a totally different story when your breath gets taken away at night as you momentarily stop breathing unconsciously; due to a disorder we call sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when a person experiences one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. The pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, occurring for thirty or more episodes an hour. Though a common sleep disorder, sleep apnea usually goes undiagnosed and is a serious health threat when untreated.
Since it occurs only at night while the person is asleep, someone with sleep apnea usually has no clue they have it. Unless one has sleeping companions, a person may continue their day-to-day regimen not knowing that they regularly, briefly stop breathing at night, until they start feeling its long-term effects.
Primarily, sleep apnea can be divided into two main categories namely, central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea, the latter being the most common. A mixture of both kinds also exists. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing shallow breathing or breathing pauses. Whereas central sleep apnea is caused by a neurological malfunction in which the brain’s normal signal to breathe is disrupted, diminishing a person’s effort to breathe or causing periodical breathing pauses.
The fact that sleep apnea attacks only during sleep doesn’t null its fatal effects on people’s conscious states. Undoubtedly, sleep apnea can take your breath away, for good, even when you’re awake.
Sleep apnea puts you in danger on the road.
Since it causes excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea can put someone, especially drivers, in danger on the road. Less than enough oxygen getting to your brain caused by breathing pauses makes you feel groggy at daytime. The sleepiness and tiredness one feels can impair judgment and diminish alertness, thus attention to hazard avoidance is lessened. If you have been diagnosed with this condition, seek immediate treatment and refrain from driving until your doctor recommends otherwise.
It further exposes you to occupational hazards and injuries.
Once again, this can be attributed to the diminished alertness and attention caused by excessive sleepiness from sleep apnea. Since oxygen is needed by brain cells, lack of oxygen can kill them; thus, sleep apnea also affects people’s intelligence, memory, concentration and mental agility.
For workers needing more technical alertness in their field, like engineers, machine operators, commercial drivers, doctors, nurses, etc., untreated sleep apnea not only jeopardises their own lives, it can also be harmful to the people they are servicing.
It dramatically worsens cardiovascular diseases, or makes you highly susceptible to them.
Talking about diseases that cause the highest mortality rates, heart and vascular ailments almost always get the top notch. With less oxygen circulating in your body at night, a heart attack or stroke might greet you as you wake up in the morning. More like a nightmare following you up in the crack of daylight.
Sleep apnea makes arrhythmias or irregular heart beat patterns worse and it creates ripples of bad side effects throughout the cardiovascular system. People with developing CV diseases and diagnosed with sleep apnea at the same time are prescribed with CPAP masks or CPAP machines for better relief of apnoeic episodes. CPAP machines or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machines supply steady and constant air pressure that helps keep the airways open and includes a hose and a CPAP mask or nose piece. CPAP machines have proven to be effective in lessening apnoeic episodes and treating it eventually. So long as the person being treated follows proper treatment regimen.
Sleep apnea diminishes overall quality of life.
Poor quality of life can apparently result from untreated sleep apnea. Not only for the fact that it causes depression, its unpleasant repercussions in a person’s daily living gradually kill one’s delight in life.
It has bad effects on a person’s five senses, the eyes especially, since it causes eye illnesses like glaucoma from hypertension and diabetes that are both aggravated by sleep apnea. It raises one’s stress levels and also causes reduction in sexual desire and function.
With better innovations, more treatment options are available that suit different needs. CPAP machines, for one, produce amazing results for people willing to get treated, as per their physician’s recommendation.
Sleep apnea, a night phantom, should be put to rest soon before it puts one to eternal rest.
By Debra Wright
Debra Wright doesn’t say much, but when she does, she prefers to write it down. Among the things she’s written are helpful how-to’s and interesting insights on sleep apnea solutions. If you’d like to learn more about stop snoring, follow Debra on twitter @debrawrites