Ever wake up with a dry mouth and feeling like you didn’t sleep a wink? This could be a sign of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition where you stop breathing for a short period of time while asleep. These brief periods can occur hundreds of times each night, often for a minute or longer. During this time, your brain and body may not be getting enough oxygen.
Most people are unaware that they have this issue, but left untreated, sleep apnea can cause serious health issues like hypertension, heart failure, stroke, depression, and more. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea, common symptoms and how to treat it.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central and mixed. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a blockage in the airway, often soft tissue in the throat that collapses and closes while a person is asleep. Central sleep apnea is not caused by a blockage, but instead the sleeper’s brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. The third type of sleep apnea, mixed, is a combination of both obstructive and central.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is more commonly found in men and people that are overweight. While it can only be diagnosed after a sleep study, here are some common symptoms to look for:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime sleepiness
- Waking up out of breath
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Waking up with a sore or dry throat
If you show any of these signs, consult with your doctor. Your doctor will review your symptoms and arrange for you to have a sleep study.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest a variety of treatment options. If it is mild then behavioral changes may be enough to eliminate your symptoms. Losing weight, changing your sleeping position and avoiding alcohol and smoking might help you breathe better at night.
If it is severe, your doctor will most likely prescribe you to wear a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) mask nightly. This mask is worn over your nose and mouth and is hooked up to a machine that delivers a continuous flow of air into your nose. The continuous flow of air ensures your breathing is regulated throughout the night. This is the most common treatment for sleep apnea sufferers.