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4 Things to Know About Sleep Apnea and What Causes It

Sleep apnea happens when someone is asleep and their breathing is interrupted. This can occur throughout their sleep, and some of the signals for sleep apnea include loud snoring, waking up with a dry throat, periods in which an individual stops breathing during their sleep, and waking up and gasping for air.

The condition can fall into one of three categories, which are listed by Mayo Clinic as being obstructive sleep apnea, the most common, which happens when the throat muscles relax during sleep. The second is central sleep apnea, which happens when there is a problem between the brain signals and the muscles controlling breathing, and the third is complex sleep apnea syndrome, which is a combination of both aforementioned types.

Who is at risk of sleep apnea? According to WebMD, anyone, including children, can develop sleep apnea, but some people are more at risk for it than others. Those who are more likely to suffer from the sleep disorder are men, individuals over the age of 40, individuals who are overweight (fat deposits around the upper airway can interfere with normal breathing), and those with a history of the disorder in their family. As well as individuals who have a larger neck, tongue or tonsils, or a small jaw bone. You may also find that you experience daytime fatigue and are forgetful.

Sleep apnea can be treated, but if left untreated it can result in high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, a stroke, headaches, and heart failure, among other things. Some potential ways to resolve the issue is with a lifestyle change, or using devices such as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device or a mandibular advancement device (MAD) to aid breathing, NHS reports.

If you’re wondering just how common sleep apnea is, then according to Medical News Today, it’s pretty common with mild symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea affecting as many as 1 in 5 people. The publication also notes that 1 in 15 individuals have moderate-to-severe symptoms.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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