Sleep Apnea: You May Have It and Not Even Know It

Man falling asleep during work hours

Most people who have sleep apnea do not know it. An estimated 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea. The reason most people are unaware that they suffer from sleep apnea is simple; it happens during sleep. Sleep apnea is recognized by others, such as sleep partners, witnessing an individual have episodes of sleep apnea. An episode occurs when the airway is blocked, and the regular breathing pattern is interrupted. This pause in breathing is called an apnea. It can last for several seconds to a minute. When an episode occurs and the airway becomes blocked, their body will automatically react, carbon dioxide will build up in the blood stream, and the brain is signaled to wake up and breathe. Apnea’s can happen more than 30 times an hour.

Diagram explaining obstructive sleep apnea


Symptoms of the disease are snoring, excessive sleepiness and impaired alertness. Common effects of sleep apnea are slow reaction time and vision problems. This sleep apnea cycle stops the brain from getting the sleep it needs. Constant sleep disturbance stop you from getting the quality sleep you need to be awake and alert during the day. Untreated, sleep apnea can cause dire consequences. From personality changes such as depression or irritability, to headaches, decreased sex drive, decline in mental functioning or even worse –high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

These complications can be avoided easily -by getting tested, and treated for the disease when applicable. So get a sleep test if you, your partner, or someone you know has symptoms of sleep apnea. Luckily, there is a solution to the problem. You can stop it from cause more problems, and start getting a good quality of sleep.

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