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Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Causes and Effects

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Apnea means cessation of breathing. It can be for a small duration or can also occur recurrently. Obstructive sleep apnea, therefore means, the cessation of breathing that occurs while sleeping and when left unaddressed, it can manifest into a serious sleeping disorder. Typically, obstructive sleep apnea happens when the airway is blocked, despite efforts of breathing, and can last for durations of 10 seconds every time it occurs. In this article, we take a closer look at the symptoms and causes of obstructive sleep apnea.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

As a result of block airway, the oxygen supply to the brain and other parts of the body gets cut out which often ruins one sleep. At the same time, the body showcases some symptoms as the apnea gets more frequent. Most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Headache – due to poor sleep and due to lack of adequate oxygen to the brain;
  • Grogginess and sleepiness – obstructive sleep apnea causes one to wake up multiple times in the middle of the night, affecting the required eight hours of quality sleep. This results in day time drowsiness and grogginess. Consequently, this also affects motor function and cognitive behavior.
  • Forgetfulness – the brain needs quality sleep to consolidate memories and to clear out toxins that can help remember things better. Naturally, obstruction of sleep hinders this process and can cause forgetfulness.
  • Other symptoms also include snoring, abrupt wakefulness by gasping, high blood pressure, night sweats and waking up with sore throat.

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

As the muscle at the back of the throat relaxes, it narrows or closes the airway, causing a decrease in oxygen and an increase in carbon dioxide in the blood. When this happens, the brains wake you up from sleep to consciously reopen the airway for proper breathing. Many times, for people suffering from chronic obstructive sleep apnea, it is common to wake up gasping or choking. Doctors have pointed out that such breathing pauses can happen over 30 times in an hour. The wakefulness if so swift that people often can’t remember waking up multiple times. As a result, this obstructs the sleep stages and leaves the person tired the next day, even though one might not be aware of waking up multiple times.

Effects of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Consult a professional if you have noticed any or all of the above symptoms for multiple days. Since the person suffering from obstructive sleep apnea may not always be aware, it is important for the partners to keep track of the symptoms. Most importantly, chronic obstructive sleep apnea can cause the following health problems, so it is best to identify the symptoms early on, in order to avoid further manifestation.

  • Weight gain: Getting the right amount of sleep helps keep the metabolism in check. Recurring sleep disturbance hinders the internal metabolism causing excessive fat storage, thereby leading to weight gain.
  • Cardiovascular problems: Hypertension can be a cause or an effect of obstructive sleep apnea. As a result, one is at risk of any cardiovascular problems like coronary artery disease, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Risk of complication during surgery or administering medication: Scientists have noted that certain medication that includes sedatives, narcotic elements, or general anesthetic can cause muscle relaxation, thereby also further increasing chances of sleep apnea. So, if you are prescribed any of these, get the whole picture before consuming them.
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