Sleep apnea is one of the more common types of sleep disorder. Many people who suffer from it may not be totally aware of the presence of the condition. This is because sleeping people are not normally aware of that is happening as they sleep. In most cases, it is the bed partner or room mates of an affected person who could tell if he is suffering from the condition. Sleep apnea does not pose immediate and very severe threats, but it is still considered a very dangerous condition. What actually cause the problem?
Your throat muscles are responsible for keeping the airway in your throat stiff and open when you are awake. This helps keep the lungs open for air breathing. During sleep, the same muscles get more relaxed. Relaxed throat muscles usually keeps airway open so that air could still flow into the lungs. However, at times, the airways could get blocked or narrowed especially during sleep. Such is the condition when there is sleep apnea.
There are several specific reasons why the airway passage gets obstructed or blocked during sleep. First, the throat muscles and even the tongue get more relaxed than normal. Second, tonsils and tongue are naturally larger than normal that they serve as obstruction to opening of your windpipe. Third, if you are overweight, there could be extra soft fat tissues that could thicken your windpipe’s wall. This occurrence makes the interior of the airway opening narrow, making it also harder to remain or keep open.
Blocking of the airways during sleep apnea could also be due to the natural shape of your own head and neck. If you have a bony structure in the areas, chances are greater that you could have a smaller than normal airway size in the throat and even in the mouth. Lastly, the aging process could also be factor. Old age could limit the brain’s ability to send signals that would keep throat muscles ideally stiff during sleep. Such an occurrence could make airways narrower and eventually collapse.
In general, it is logical that not sufficient air supply flows into the lungs when the airways are partly or fully blocked, especially during sleep. In most cases, such a condition could lead to very loud snoring and to significant decline in your body’s blood oxygen level. Be reminded that there could be risks when the oxygen level falls to very dangerous levels.
It could trigger the brain to effectively disturb your sleep. This is a natural reflex to that the upper airway muscled would be kept tight and the windpipe open. Sleep apnea occurs in a few minutes, after which, normal breathing could effectively resume. This is often heralded by a sudden loud choking sound or snort.
It is also natural that frequent drops in your body’s oxygen level and at the same time reduced or lack of sleep could trigger unlikely release of natural stress hormones. When this happens, the heart rate is raised and there is increased risk for heart attack, hypertension, stroke, and even irregular heartbeats. Stress hormones could also worsen a prevailing heart failure or ailment.
It is important that sleep apnea be treated or you could develop obesity and diabetes due to significant changes on how the body is using energy.