Snoring is sometimes accompanied by disturbed breathing. The breathing can falter or even stop during sleep. A breathing stop is called an apnea. If these apneas occur regularly during the sleep, this condition is called sleep apnea.
TWO TYPES OF SLEEP APNEA
There are two types of sleep apnea. In Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA or OSAS) the airways are temporarily blocked by the tongue, the tonsils, the soft palate or the larynx. Because no breath can be drawn, an alarm signal is sent to the brain. The brain is alerted by this signal, the airways are unblocked and as a result the breathing resumes. The brain then comes to rest again. The snoring person does not experience any inconvenience. However, if the brain receives such an alarm signal several times a night, this will certainly cause a seriously disturbed sleep.
Less common is Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). CSA occurs when the respiratory muscles do not get a signal from the brain to move. There is no blockage of the airway, but no breathing takes place. As such, there is an apnea and, like with OSA, this leads to a strongly disturbed sleep. CSA is common in people with heart failure and atrial fibrillation.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep apnea is often accompanied by the appearance of breathing stops during sleep. Heavy snoring and gasping for breath can also be symptoms of sleep apnea. However, there are many more symptoms and complaints that may be indicative of sleep apnea.
- Snoring loudly, followed by a breathing stop. Sometimes people gasp before resuming a normal breathing pattern
- Troubled sleep with restless legs
- Waking up tired
- Morning headaches
- Little energy
- Fatigue and / or daytime sleepiness
- Mood swings and a bad mood
- Concentration disorders and memory problems
- High blood pressure
- Depression, being anxious
- Dry mouth and / or sore throat
- Having to urinate regularly during the night
- Nightly sweating
- Muscle strain
- Anxious dreams
- Other unexplained physical complaints
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SLEEP APNEA?
As a result of the nightly breathing problems, the oxygen level in the blood can drop. The brain, organs and blood temporarily receive less oxygen. This affects the quality of sleep and can be harmful to the cardiovascular system. In the short term sleep apnea can lead to daytime fatigue and mood swings.
People often also suffer from concentration problems and forgetfulness. People are less alert and therefore, for example, there is a sharp increase in the risk of car accidents. In the long term sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, depression and even brain infarcts.