What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea involves the cessation of breathing during sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most popular type of sleep apnea. Another type is the central sleep apnea (CSA), which comes from the brain’s inability to send breathing signals. The blockage of airways by the tissue in the throat causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
When a sleep apnea diagnosis is made, some people have a hybrid case where they have symptoms coming from both CSA and OSA variants. The hybrid case is called complex sleep apnea.
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?
Sleep apnea is difficult to diagnose compared to other diseases because of its nature. The disease often takes time to diagnose because the symptoms occur when one is sleeping. Unless you are incredibly mindful of your sleep habits, it usually takes an outsider to spot the signs first or when the patient feels too tired and not rested during the day. Whichever causes the discomfort warrants a trip to the doctor.
Diagnosing sleep apnea usually requires an external observer or companion first to notice the trademark symptoms. Before the 1970s, it was a mysterious disease that doctors commonly misdiagnosed. Modern research has made developments in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.
Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
For sleep apnea diagnosis, sleep specialists can help determine your exact condition. However, a greater majority of mild and less symptomatic cases are left undiagnosed and untreated. This is a cause for concern because sleep apnea has silent dangers in its own right.
An estimated 5% of the population of Western countries suffer from this problem. An epidemiologic study on obstructive sleep apnea by the University of Wisconsin exposes the many risks associated with undiagnosed sleep apnea:
- Metabolic syndrome disorders
- Stroke or mini-strokes (ischemic attacks)
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Vehicular accidents from driving with excessive sleepiness
- Lower quality of life
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- Cardiovascular disease.
- Fetus intrauterine growth restriction or pre-eclampsia in pregnant women
When it comes to sleep apnea diagnosis, taking note of the following risk factors can help: