Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the sleep disorder, which occurs when a person’s airway becomes blocked during sleep. People who suffer from the disorder don’t always know it’s happening, but they may suspect they have the condition if they consistently wake up feeling tired and unrefreshed.
When something happens to block the airway, the body’s defense mechanisms kick in, jerking the individual awake. This is why many sleep apnea sufferers are known to snore or suddenly jerk or snort in their sleep. Because sleep apnea cuts off the flow of oxygen to the brain, it can be quite dangerous. It can also cause heart arrhythmia and heart attack.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Sleepiness during the daytime
- Sore throat in the morning
- Sexual dysfunction
- Waking up with a feeling of choking or gasping
- Bruxism (grinding the teeth)
- Night sweats
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
Certain factors make a person more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. For example, people who smoke or are obese have a higher risk of developing the disorder. Individuals with a thicker neck are also at an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
The good news is that obstructive sleep apnea is treatable. Treatment options include weight loss, certain nasal sprays, better sleep habits, and the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.