Many people treat snoring as a joke or something to feel embarrassed about. But loud snoring-especially when accompanied by daytime fatigue-may be a sign of sleep apnea, a common disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts as you sleep. Sleep apnea is actually quite common.It can leave you feeling exhausted, harm your health, and affect your relationship and mood with your bed partner as well. While it is chronic, it can be treated.
Here are eight other important things to know about sleep apnea:
1. Sleep apnea significantly increases your risk of stroke. 50% of all stroke victims have sleep apnea.
2. Sleep apnea causes insulin resistance and as a result may cause or worsen diabetes.
3. If you have PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) your chances of having sleep apnea is greater than 50%.
4. If you have insomnia with frequent awakenings, it may be due to sleep apnea.
5. It is important to realize that sleep apnea can present in numerous ways. In fact, some studies show that over 25% of patients did not even snore!
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6. There’s more than one type of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea, and occurs when the muscles in your throat become blocked (“obstructed”) while you sleep. Another type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, happens when there’s a disconnect between your brain and muscles. As a result, your brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Sometimes obstructive and central sleep apnea can occur at the same time, which is called complex sleep apnea syndrome.
7. Obesity is a major risk factor. But, you don’t have to be an obese man to have sleep apnea. 30% of people with sleep apnea are not obese, and after menopause, women’s rates of sleep apnea approximate men’s.
8. Other factors that may up your risk of obstructive sleep apnea: having naturally larger tonsils or narrow airways, having a family member with sleep apnea, smoking, alcohol, and nasal congestion.