There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex sleep apnea.
Obstructive: the most common type which occurs when the throat muscles relax.
Central: our brain normally sends signals to the muscles that control our breathing, but if you suffer from central sleep apnea, your brain will fail to send those proper signals.
Complex: this type is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include suffering from both a sore throat and a mouth that is dry as a desert in the morning.
Having difficulty paying attention during the day, irritability, insomnia as well as morning headaches are also signs of nocturnal trouble.
People with this disorder also have an extremely loud snore that can wake up anyone within sleeping distance.
The muscles in the back of your throat support various parts such as the tonsils and the side walls of your throat and tongue.
When those muscles relax, the passage that allows air in and out of your body becomes narrow or closes as you breathe.
This instantly alerts your brain to the dangerous situation and forces you to wake up briefly so that you can help reopen this passage.
Sleep apnea can happen to anyone, even children, but there are factors that come into play, putting you at risk of suffering from this nocturnal disorder.
These factors include smoking, nasal congestion, being overweight or having a narrow air passage. Age also plays a role since sleep apnea occurs more often in adults.
Heart disorders also put a person at risk, and even using sedatives that help you fall asleep can cause your throat muscles to relax.
How to Detect It
There are three ways to find out if you suffer from sleep apnea:
Physical Exam: Having a doctor examine your mouth, nose, and throat for any signs of enlarged tissue is one way to detect it. Doctors usually look for an enlarged uvula, which is a dangling piece of tissue found at the back of your throat. The doctor will also examine your medical and family history and ask you questions about your sleeping habits.
Sleep Studies: These are tests that measure how well you sleep. They record brain activity, eye movements, and blood oxygen levels among other things. These tests are usually done in labs or specialized sleep centers.
Home-Based Monitor: This is a miniature version of the above-mentioned test. You can take the portable monitor home to help you record certain vital activities while you sleep.