Obstructive Sleep Apnea: How Does it Affect Your Health? A Quick Read

Bajaj Finserv Health
February 18th, 2022
11 mins read

Key Takeaways

  • Obstructive sleep apnea can be severe if not treated on time
  • OSA syndrome symptoms include drowsiness and disturbed sleep
  • Age, weight and family history are risk factors for obstructive apnea

Have you ever imagined what would happen if your breathing stopped for a few seconds during sleep? Sounds scary, right? Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is exactly what this condition is called. In obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, your breathing stops for a few seconds and then starts again while you are in deep sleep. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) recognizes this condition too, and for OSA, ICD-10 code is G47.33. 

It is important to be aware of sleep apnea syndrome so you can get medical help on time. Repots conclude that this condition increases with age. A study done among a group of elderly people found that approximately 90% of men and 78% of women had OSA syndrome [1].  

OSA syndrome is the most common type, but there are two more types of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea. OSA occurs when a part or all of your upper airway tract is blocked during sleep. Due to this blockage, your diaphragm has to work hard to open the airway and take air into lungs. This makes your breathing shallow or it may even stop for a few seconds.  

When you start breathing again, you may experience a sudden jerk in your body or make a loud gasp. Your sleep may also be disturbed but you may not be aware of your situation. If severe obstructive sleep apnea is left untreated, it can cause serious health ailments like heart diseases and high blood pressure. Read on for insight on this disorder and its symptoms.  

Additional Read: How are Sleep and Mental Health Connected? Tips to Improve Sleep 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms 

If you are facing this disorder, you may experience daytime sleepiness. Since oxygen supply to your brain and other organs reduces, you may feel drowsy and have no clarity of thought in the morning. With obstructive sleep apnea, severe symptoms that you may experience include [2]: 

  • Drowsiness 
  • Disturbed sleeping patterns 
  • Severe headaches in the morning 
  • Disturbance in sleeping throughout the night 
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Grumpiness 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Low concentration in your daily routine 
  • Rapid mood swings 
  • Loud snoring 
  • A sore throat when you wake up in the morning 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes 

Though it can occur in anyone, it is more common in adults. Obesity is one of the main reasons for this condition. When you sleep, the tissues of your throat and mouth relax. As a result, even your airways start narrowing down, thereby restricting airflow to your body. Thus, the oxygen level in your blood reduces, and it prompts your brain to wake you up so that your airway can be opened.  

Since you are in deep sleep, you may not notice yourself waking up. The whole process may even get repeated up to 30 times. This disturbs your sleep, and you feel lethargic and drowsy the following day [3]. 

Obstructive sleep apnea home remedies

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Risk Factors 

You are more likely to acquire this condition if: 

  • You are a male 
  • Have a family history of this condition 
  • Have smoking habits 
  • You have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, COPD 
  • You are obese or overweight 
  • There are excess tissues at the back of your throat that block your airway 
  • Your neck is thick or large 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Complications 

  • Heart ailments 
  • Eye problems 
  • Concentration issues 
  • Feeling sleepy during daytime 
  • Metabolic disorders 
  • Pregnancy problems 

Additional Read: 5 Types of Heart Disease and Their Symptoms You Need to Keep an Eye on! 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) diagnosis 

After discussing your sleep patterns, doctors may ask you to undergo a physical examination. A sleep study may be conducted either at your home or in a sleep lab. You’ll have to wear monitors so that these factors can be measured: 

  • Eye movement 
  • Oxygen levels in your blood 
  • Heartbeat rate 
  • Activity of your muscles 
  • Arm and leg movements 
  • Breathing patterns 
  • Electrical activity of brain 
  • Airflow 

With this analysis, your doctor will be able to determine the number of times you face breathing issues in your sleep. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment 

There are different options available for OSA treatment. Some of the most feasible ones include: 

  • Losing weight 
  • Limiting the consumption of alcohol 
  • Avoiding sleeping pills
  • Using oral devices that prevent your tongue from blocking the throat 
  • Inhaling nasal sprays that can ease your nasal congestion 
  • Using a CPAP machine that helps maintain proper airflow even when you sleep 
  • Undergoing surgery to remove uneven tissues blocking your airflow 

You can try these measures and get obstructive sleep apnea treatment at home itself. But if you are experiencing excessive drowsiness during the day or can’t sleep properly at night, consult a doctor. With the right treatment plan, you can manage your symptoms. You can connect to top pulmonologists and specialists on Bajaj Finserv Health. Book an appointment and address this condition on time so you can get your beauty sleep!

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