Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing is not continuous while you’re asleep. Your breathing stops temporarily and this pause in breathing can happen multiple times throughout the night.
Sleep apnea can occur without you even being aware that you have it. It’s usually a family member or a spouse that notices – and even then, he or she may not be aware that loud snoring or sudden bursts of gasping for air are signs of sleep apnea.
The gasping stems from not enough oxygen passing through to your lungs because your air becomes blocked as it tries to move through the airways. This condition causes breaks in your sleep and because you’re asleep, it escapes your notice.
What you may notice, however, is that it’s hard to function in the daytime. You may feel sleep deprived and have a strong urge to take a nap. Having sleep apnea and not knowing you have it can be deadly if it’s not treated.
Sleep Apnea Can Be Deadly
Sleep apnea that remains undiagnosed can lead to diabetes, heart attacks, other heart problems – even premature death – because the apnea can cause your heart to begin beating erratically and throwing it into an irregular rhythm that you can’t recover from.
Recognize the Signs
One of the most noticeable signs that you might have this condition is snoring that’s loud enough to wake others. If others have complained about how loud you snore, it’s time to get that checked out.
Another sign you might notice is that your throat is sore when you first wake up. You might chalk it up to allergies or sleeping in a cool room, but this is caused by snoring. You may have a headache upon waking – and this is caused by both the sleep interruptions and a lack of getting the proper amount of oxygen.
Getting up throughout the night to urinate can be a sign – or you may also wake up feeling like your mouth is full of cotton. Having sleep apnea can make you feel sluggish, cause you to experience periods where you struggle to remember things, and it can even cause changes in your mood.
If you’re overweight, then you’re at high risk for sleep apnea.
Kids Can Have Sleep Apnea, Too
Children can also have a form of sleep apnea known as obstructive sleep apnea – and they can have this form of sleep apnea regardless of whether or not they’re overweight.
The symptoms for this are much the same as sleep apnea in adults. You might notice that your child is too sleepy during the day and struggles to pay attention during school hours. A doctor may be able to tell that the child’s tonsils are swollen, which is often a sign of the condition.
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