What, Exactly, is Sleep Apnea?
While there are three types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is, by far, the most common. For our purposes today, OSA will be the main focus. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes obstructed while you sleep. The airway becomes obstructed when the tissues in your airway collapse. When oxygen is cut off, the brain alerts the heart to keep beating, but the sleeping person will gasp or choke for breath since the collapsed tissue has blocked the airway and eventually awaken briefly.
The cessation of sleeping may occur hundreds of times per night. If you stop sleeping for ten seconds or more at a time and awaken the next day feeling tired, there’s a very good chance you have OSA. It’s uncommon that people become fully awake during a sleep apnea episode, so many people don’t even know they have OSA.
If you’ve been told you snore, you may have sleep apnea because snoring and sleep apnea are closely linked. You’ll be amazed to learn how dangerous undiagnosed sleep apnea can be; sleep apnea will not only make for a miserable day following poor sleep, it may wreak havoc on your general health. The dangers of sleep apnea are numerous and include:
- Coronary artery disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
These serious medical conditions are the main reasons that sleep apnea treatment should be sought if you suspect you have it.
Another issue that is closely linked to obstructive sleep apnea is TMJ.