Sleep apnea affects the quality of sleep that a person gets every night. In people with sleep apnea, the airways become partially or fully blocked, due to a collapse of the airway while sleeping. The person then stops breathing for a few seconds to a few minutes several times a night. Sleep apnea can affect a person’s overall quality of life, but certain measures can be taken to immediately improve sleep quality.
Exceptionally loud snoring and feeling exhausted despite getting enough sleep are the most common minor symptoms of sleep apnea. Blockage of the air passages causes the snoring. The exhaustion is a result of not getting quality sleep. Even though the person may have slept for eight hours, he did not actually sleep well because his body had to wake up constantly to resume breathing. Other minor symptoms include the frequent need to urinate at night, headaches, forgetfulness, irritability and waking with a dry throat, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
The lack of sleep leads to risks for other conditions, explains the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. These include high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes. This is partly due to the lack of sleep, which makes the person suffering from sleep apnea too tired to exercise and eat healthy meals.
Treatments for Minor Sleep Apnea
In some people, sleep apnea is cause by lifestyle choices, such as a lack of exercise and unhealthy eating habits, and minor medical conditions, such as allergies. In these cases, eating right, exercising, losing weight and taking allergy medicine can prevent the airways from collapsing during sleep.
Treatments for Serious Sleep Apnea
In some people, the cause of the sleep apnea is not easily fixed as it may be due to the physical structure of their neck and throat area or older age. In these cases, doctors may recommend that patients use oral appliance therapy, continuous positive airway pressure therapy or surgery. Dentists fit oral appliances to the individual patient. The person wears their oral appliance in their mouth each night to keep their airway open. CPAP therapy, involves a mask, similar to an oxygen mask, or having prongs inserted into the nose, which the patient wears at night. This forces air into the airway, keeping it open. Surgical procedures that may help those with sleep apnea include removing the tonsils or excess tissue in the throat.