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Can Sleep Apnea Affect Your Breathing During The Day

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What Are The Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

ResMed – What is obstructive sleep apnea ?

Snoring is a hallmark symptom of obstructive sleep apnea. However, not all children who snore have sleep apnea, and not all children with sleep apnea snore. Only a doctor can determine whether a childs symptoms are due to sleep apnea.

In addition to snoring, other symptoms of sleep apnea in children during sleep include:

  • Breathing through the mouth during sleep
  • Coughing or choking

Sleep apnea also causes detrimental symptoms during waking hours. These may include:

Treatment For Other Health Problems

You may need to be treated for other health problems before you are treated for sleep apnea. For example:

  • People who also have inflammation of the nasal passages may need to use nose spray to reduce the inflammation.
  • People who have an underactive thyroid gland need to take thyroid medicine.

You may also need treatment for problems that sleep apnea may cause, such as high blood pressure.

How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Body

Sleep apnea occurs when the muscles and soft tissue at the back of the throat relax too much and collapse while you’re sleeping. This allows the soft tissues and the tongue to block your airway and your breathing. When the oxygen level in your blood starts to drop, your brain signals you to wake briefly and start breathing again. This cycle happens over and over throughout the nightoften you don’t even realize it is happening.

Daytime sleepiness, forgetfulness and irritability are just some of the ways sleep apnea may affect your health and well being. People with sleep apnea often feel as if they haven’t slept at all, even if they sleep for the recommended seven to nine hours each night. This is because waking up so often prevents high-quality sleep. In addition to being sleepy during the day, not getting enough sleep may make it harder to concentrate, or could make you forgetful, irritable and foggy-headed. Interestingly, children with sleep apnea often become hyperactive instead of sleepy.

There are serious potential consequences to undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea. Besides making sleep difficult, it can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and result in early death.

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How Does Sleep Apnea Work

Sleep Apnea includes apneas, or apnea events, which mean that your airway is blocked making it so you cant breathe. Your brain wants your body to breathe, but your lungs are not taking in any air. When your brain finally realizes the problem, it wakes you up so you can begin breathing again. Once you are awake, you do resume breathing normally.

There are a few types of Sleep Apnea. The most common type, which is the one that includes blockages of the airway, is officially called Obstructive Sleep Apnea . The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute explains that Sleep Apnea can have many causes that include obesity, premature birth, heart failure or various others. Learn more about Sleep Apnea causes and symptoms.

According to the Canadian Lung Association, Sleep Apnea can lead to cognitive function decline, sleepiness during the day and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, early death, and other problems. Also, learn how Sleep Apnea can lead to memory problems in this Sleep Apnea article. These problems can occur when the problem is left untreated, but this problem can be treated with continuous positive airway pressure or sometimes alternate treatments for less severe cases.

Seek Out Insomnia Treatments

How Medicare Can Help with Sleep Apnea

According to the NSF, sleep apnea is also linked to insomnia, a sleep disorder in which you have trouble falling asleep.

To combat insomnia, Mendez recommends limiting caffeine, avoiding screens at night, and not looking at the clock. If youre tossing and turning, get out of bed and do a calming activity before trying to fall asleep again. You should also be evaluated for other conditions that can affect sleep, such as leg movement disorders, anxiety, and depression.

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You’re Noticing Weight Gain

Sleep apnea interferes with metabolism, and you may have noticed this if you have problems with losing weight, or more frustratingly, with gaining weight, despite diet and exercise. “Sleep apnea has been associated with impairing your bodyââ¬â¢s ability to process sugar, which also puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes,” says Cheng.

What It Is How It Harms Chilrdrens’ Sleep And Health And How It Can Be Treated

    Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing is interrupted during sleep. These pauses in breathing affect sleep quality and can lead to daytime sleepiness and behavior issues in children.

    The two types of sleep apnea are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea . In OSA, a person tries to breathe but is unable to because of a constricted or blocked airway. In CSA, there is typically a lack of effort to inhale, so a person briefly stops taking breaths. Similar to adults, OSA is much more common in children than CSA.

    Researchers estimate that between 1-5% of children have obstructive sleep apnea. Although studies have shown obstructive sleep apnea to be relatively rare in children, it is also commonly underdiagnosed.

    Knowing the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea in children can help you determine when to see a pediatrician. There are tests available to diagnose sleep apnea and treatments that can help manage or resolve this condition.

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    What Causes Sleep Apnea

    Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. Central sleep apnea is usually observed in patients with central nervous system dysfunction, such as following a stroke or in patients with neuromuscular diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis . It is also common in patients with heart failure and other forms of heart, kidney or lung disease.

    You Snore Or Gasp For Air

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    Snoring and gasping for air are common red flags of sleep apnea. “Although some say that snoring is a sign of ‘deep sleep,’ it is not normal to snore and experience pauses in breathing, or to choke or gasp for air at night,” says Dr. Alon Avidan, MD, MPH, Director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Health, over email. “These signs point to a high likelihood of obstructive sleep apnea.”

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    You Have A Low Sex Drive

    If you have a low sex drive or problems in the bedroom and you’re not sure why, it could be a result of sleep apnea. “Though not definitive, there may be an association between sleep apnea and sexual dysfunction in both men and women,” says Cheng. “In men, this can present as erectile dysfunction. In women, symptoms may include decreases in sexual desire, orgasm, and satisfaction.”

    Lifestyle Treatments For Sleep Apnea

    For mild cases of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes may be enough to treat the issue. Your doctor will let you know if thats the right starting point. But even if you are prescribed a medical treatment, the following changes can help reduce your sleep apnea episodes and improve your sleep.

    Lose weight. If you are overweight, losing weight can have an enormous impact. While it is usually not a total cure, it can reduce the number of breathing episodes you experience, reduce your blood pressure, and decrease daytime sleepiness. Even a small amount of weight loss can open up your throat and improve sleep apnea symptoms.

    Exercise. Even when exercise does not lead to weight loss, it can decrease your sleep apnea breathing episodes and improve your alertness and energy during the day. Aerobic exercise, resistance training, and yoga are all good choices for strengthening the muscles in your airways and improving breathing.

    Sleep on your side. Lying on your back is the worst position for sleep apnea, as it causes the jaw, tongue, and other soft tissues to drop back toward the throat, narrowing your airway. Sleeping on your stomach isnt much better, since lying face down or twisting your head to the side both obstruct breathing. Lying on your side, on the other hand, helps keep your airway open. If you find side sleeping uncomfortable or you tend to roll on to your back after youre asleep, countered side pillows or body pillows may help.

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    How To Diagnose Sleep Apnea

    One overnight test, which is called polysomnography, is what your doctor or physician will carry out to determine whether youve obstructive sleep apnea. It involves the recording of your breathing and sleeping using the in-laboratory measurement of eye movements, chin movements, respiratory effort, brain waves, and arousals, electrocardiographic tracings, airflow, body position, leg movements, and snoring.

    Medical Treatments For Sleep Apnea

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    Severe sleep apnea may require medical treatments. Individuals will need to treat sleep apnea to avoid complications if the condition gets too severe. The person may start to experience low energy, daytime sleepiness, and complications with their general well-being.

    There are a few medical devices that could help. Some oral appliances can be useful. The idea of oral appliances is generally to bring the jaw forward while sleeping. This may help to open the throat. It also reduces the risk of the throat collapsing

    A CPAP machine can be helpful in treating sleep apnea. These CPAP machines assist with improving breathing during the night. A mask is placed on the persons face while they sleep. Air pressure is delivered through the mask. This helps to ensure the airways are kept open during the entire night.

    In some cases, a doctor may advise a patient to undergo a surgical procedure. Tissue removal may help to open up the airways. This is useful when some obstacles are causing a narrowing of the airway, which results in airway pressure.

    The procedure is called a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. Jaw repositioning is also sometimes used. The procedure also focuses on reducing the risk of an obstruction in the throat.

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    Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

    Because some of the symptoms of sleep apnea occur while youre sleeping, your bed partner may notice them first. You, or that person, may notice heavy snoring or long pauses in your breathing during sleep.

    Even if you dont remember waking up during the night, you may notice daytime sleepiness , irritability, or fatigue. You may also experience morning headaches, forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex.

    Home Remedies For Sleep Apnea

    There are some ways to potentially treat a less severe case of sleep apnea at home. People need to understand that sometimes, medical treatment is needed. Still, sleep apnea symptoms can potentially be improved with certain home remedies.

    A few lifestyle changes can go a long way to help a person sleep better naturally without the need for medical treatment. The idea is to achieve positive airway pressure. The airway should not collapse during the night. Getting a good nights sleep might be possible with these lifestyle changes:

    • Changing sleep positions could sometimes help. It is generally advised to sleep on the side. Some people also benefit from sleep on their abdomen4.
    • Exercise is important. Exercise could potentially reduce the symptoms associated with sleep apnea. People should aim for about 30 minutes of exercise each day.
    • Weight loss is critical for reducing the symptoms related to sleep apnea. Obesity is one of the major contributing factors to this particular condition.
    • Avoiding alcohol could also be helpful.
    • People who smoke should consider quitting the habit. Smoking has also been shown to increase the risk of sleep apnea.
    • Avoiding the use of sleeping pills could potentially also be helpful.
    • Throat muscles and tongue exercises may reduce the severity of sleep apnea by strengthening the muscles in the airway, making them less likely to collapse. It may take several weeks before you start to notice the benefits.

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    What Are The Symptoms

    The main symptoms of sleep apnea that you may notice are:

    • Not feeling rested after a night’s sleep.
    • Feeling sleepy during the day.
    • Waking up with a headache.

    Your bed partner may notice that while you sleep:

    • You stop breathing.

    If you have sleep apnea, you also may not be sleeping as well as you could. If you feel sleepy during the day and it gets in the way of the normal things you do , it’s important to talk to your doctor. Be safe. Do not drive while you are drowsy.

    What Are The Effects Of Sleep Apnea

    Sleep Apnea in Children

    If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a number of health problems including hypertension, stroke, arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy , heart failure, diabetes, obesity and heart attacks.

    Its likely that sleep apnea can cause arrhythmias and heart failure because if you have sleep apnea, you tend to have higher blood pressure. In fact, sleep apnea occurs in about 50% of people with heart failure or atrial fibrillation.

    This is because sleep apnea can cause:

    • Repeated episodes of oxygen lowering .
    • Changes in carbon dioxide levels.
    • Direct effects on the heart due to pressure changes within the chest.
    • Increased levels of markers of inflammation.

    With the high prevalence of sleep apnea in cardiac arrhythmias and heart failure , experts recommend that you dont delay in seeking the advice of your physician.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2020.

    References

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    How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed

    If your doctor determines that you have symptoms suggestive of sleep apnea, you may be asked to have a sleep evaluation with a sleep specialist or may order an overnight sleep study to objectively evaluate for sleep apnea.

    • Testing includes an overnight sleep study called a polysomnogram . A PSG is performed in a sleep laboratory under the direct supervision of a trained technologist. During the test, a variety of body functions, such as the electrical activity of the brain, eye movements, muscle activity, heart rate, breathing patterns, air flow, and blood oxygen levels are recorded at night during sleep. After the study is completed, the number of times breathing is impaired during sleep is tallied and the severity of the sleep apnea is graded.
    • For adults, a Home Sleep Test can sometimes be performed instead. This is a modified type of sleep study that can be done in the comfort of home. It records fewer body functions than PSG, including airflow, breathing effort, blood oxygen levels and snoring to confirm a diagnosis of moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.

    An HST is not appropriate to be used as a screening tool for patients without symptoms. Its not used for patients with significant medical problems . Its also not used for patients who have other sleep disorders in addition to the suspected obstructive sleep apnea.

    What Natural Treatments Are Available For Sleep Apnea In Children

    The following natural treatments may help reduce obstructive sleep apnea in children. A childs healthcare provider will be in the best position to discuss the risks and benefits of the natural treatment listed below:

    • Weight loss: In children with obesity and obstructive sleep apnea, weight loss can alleviate symptoms. A pediatrician can assist with healthy diet and exercise planning. A dietician or nutritionist can also help create a weight loss plan. However, weight loss can take time, and a child with severe symptoms may benefit from initiating treatment that provides relief more quickly.
    • Avoiding allergens: It may be helpful to avoid substancessuch as pollen and moldthat can cause allergic rhinitis . Allergic rhinitis leads to congestion and airway restriction, which contribute to sleep apnea symptoms.
    • Nasal breathing retraining: Nasal breathing retraining is a type of physical therapy that aims to strengthen the tongue and surrounding muscles to help a child breathe effectively at night. It may help reduce symptoms, but data is limited.
    • Positional therapy: Positional therapy involves training a person to sleep in a different position. It may be used in children whose sleep apnea occurs only when they sleep on their back. Elevating the head of the bed can also help alleviate sleep apnea. However, limited information is available about the effectiveness of positional therapy in children.

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    Upper Airway Surgery For Sleep Apnea

    If you have exhausted other sleep apnea treatment options, surgery to increase the size of your airway may be a possibility.

    The surgeon may remove tonsils, adenoids, or excess tissue at the back of the throat or inside the nose, reconstruct the jaw to enlarge the upper airway, or implant plastic rods into the soft palate. Surgery carries risks of complications and infections, and in some rare cases, symptoms can become worse after surgery.

    How Common Is Sleep Apnea

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    Obstructive sleep apnea is estimated to affect between 2-9% of adults in the United States, but many cases are believed to go undiagnosed, which fits with studies that have found considerably higher rates of OSA. Precise prevalence is hard to determine because studies have used different criteria for diagnosing the condition. A consistent finding, though, is that OSA affects men more than women. It can occur in people of any age but is more common in older adults.

    Central sleep apnea has been found to affect around .9% of adults over the age of 40. It is found much more frequently in men than in women.

    As this data demonstrates, OSA is much more common than CSA. For this reason, when people talk about sleep apnea, they are generally referring to OSA.

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