Sleep Apnea – Is It Serious? What are the symptoms?

 

 

I have heard someone say that sleep apnea is not an actual medical condition.  THEY ARE WRONG!  I know for a fact that this condition is a killer and it is not just older people. I know someone who died in his early twenties.  His new wife woke up beside him to discover him dead.  He had not wanted to wear his machine because it was uncomfortable.

I agree that in the beginning those machines suck.  At least to me, mine did.  I did not like having something on my face at night.  I hated being connected to the hose so that when I turned over I had to drag it along with me.  It just plain sucked.  BUT, I am still here to complain about it!

There are many varieties of sleep apnea.  There are many different symptoms your doctor might consider including:

1,  Snoring – this can be as dramatic as the kind when you stopped breathing for a few seconds and then snort awake.  I think most of you have seen/heard this happen. The person is basically snoring, gasping and almost choking.  But, it doesn’t have to be that dramatic to still be sleep apnea.

2.  Sleep problems – either having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep.  Insomnia can be caused by stress but it can also be sleep apnea.  It is possible that the person’s brain is aware that they are not breathing right while asleep so it keeps waking them up.

3.  Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat.  People with sleep apnea may be mouth breathers in a effort to get enough air in.

4.  Weight gain or excessive weight.  Sleep is critical for weigh maintenance (or loss) as our bodies produces leptin which tells us to quit eating.  So, when we are not sleeping, we are not getting enough Leptin so we tend to eat more.

When we don’t get enough deep sleep, our bodies produce an excessive amount of a hormone called ghrelin.  Ghrelin tells our bodies that they need to eat.

Not enough sleep also cause problems with insulin.  It makes our bodies insulin-resistant, which  then causes additional insulin production.  When too much insulin is produced, the body craves unhealthy foods.

So, lack of sleep hits us with too little ghrelin,  not enough leptin an insulin-resistance causing us to want to eat.

However, not all people with sleep apnea are heavy set.

5.  Being sleepy during the day or waking up exhausted.

6.  Being forgetful or not being able to concentrate.  Sleep apnea makes it hard to focus.  It can be extremely hard to learn in school or on the job.

7. Not sleeping can lead to depression, irritability, and impatience.,   Chronic fatigue that people with sleep apnea  experience can develop into full-blown depression.  Irritability and impatience are also common symptoms because the mind is unable to focus on everyday tasks.  An inability to focus initially leads to feelings of frustration, which later morph into short, but powerful, bouts of irritability and impatience.  There are studies that have proven a direct link between sleep apnea and mental problems.

Of course, there are many other symptoms and you do not have to have all of these.  If you have any of these it might be time to talk with your doctor.  There are also several other things your doctor will look at but that is for another post.

I will make more posts to explain what the doctor may do to help decide if they want to do a sleep study (home or in the hospital).  I will also discuss how the tests goes in either place.

 

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