Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person’s breathing to stop during sleep. Patients with sleep apnea can stop breathing hundreds of times a night, depriving the brain and body of oxygen.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax and block your airway, often causing snoring. Central sleep apnea is a condition that is a lot less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs because your brain doesn’t send the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. The most common cause of both types of sleep apnea is being overweight or obese. Other causes of obstructive sleep apnea include hypothyroidism, excessive production of growth hormone, a deviated septum and allergies. Other causes of central sleep apnea include medications such as narcotic painkillers.
Sleep apnea symptoms include:
Sleep apnea predisposes people to a variety of medical conditions. If you have sleep apnea, you’re much more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, a heart attack, stroke or an irregular heartbeat. It can also increase your risk of being involved in a car accident.
There are also sleep apnea devices such as a sleep apnea pillow or a shirt with a cushion in it that prevents you from rolling on your back at night. Therefore, you sleep more on your side, and you won’t be as inclined to obstruct your throat.
Talk to your physician if you’d like more information on sleep apnea.
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