A person who snores loudly is often the object of jokes in everyday life. With such a frivolous attitude towards snoring, and in a scientific way – obstructive sleep apnea syndrome, experts are ready to argue.
They are convinced that respiratory arrest disease, also called sleep apnea, is a cause for concern, not a subject of ridicule.
Snoring and sleep apnea – is there a difference between them?
The process of snoring is as follows – the gap between the walls of the pharynx narrows in a person, resulting in vibration.
The narrower the gap, the stronger the vibration and the louder the snoring. But sometimes the walls of the pharynx close so tightly that breathing stops.
These short stops can occur frequently – more than 10 times in 60 minutes. This means that sleep apnea has developed.
Snoring often occurs while sleeping on your back. Therefore, the people have invented an original way to deal with the problem. To prevent the snorer from rolling over on his back in a dream, a tennis ball is tied to it. While this does not cure apnea, snoring is less common.
Apnea – is it dangerous for human health?
The World Health Organization provides eloquent statistics regarding the danger of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
It turns out that he can shorten a human life by 20 years. To understand what the threat of snoring is and why it negatively affects life expectancy, you need to imagine what a person who snores looks like.
In a dream, he suddenly “falls silent”, breathing stops for a short period of time. The body needs oxygen, a person tries to inhale, but he fails – blocked airways interfere.
Then, on command from the brain, the muscles of the pharynx are tensioned. As a result, the person snores and breathing resumes.
Such a long time without breathing cannot but affect the state of the body. He begins to suffer from oxygen starvation. The skin of people with respiratory arrest disease may become bluish during sleep.
In addition, the brain, due to frequent interruptions in breathing, constantly remains active, so snoring has a shallow sleep, they cannot get enough sleep.
Statistics say that more than 100 million people on Earth have a diagnosis of apnea. In countries with developed medicine, it is placed more often.
Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome occurs in about 20% of the population.
In Russia, the Pavlov University is studying the problem of sleep apnea. According to researchers, approximately 9% of Russians, or 13 million people, are affected by the disease.
Holding your breath while snoring can last from 15 seconds to 2-3 minutes. And their number per night sometimes reaches 500. In total, holding the breath can last 4 hours.
Symptoms of the development of apnea and its complications
What happens to the body of a person suffering from sleep apnea for many years?
Constant oxygen starvation in combination with an excess of carbon dioxide in the blood leads to a violation of the acid-base balance. Chronic sleep deprivation aggravates the problem.
Most snoring people are familiar with the following symptoms:
- headache in the morning;
- feeling weak and chronic fatigue ;
- deterioration of intelligence, memory;
- decreased performance.
More serious is the list of complications likely to occur with respiratory arrest disease. Obesity seems to be the most “harmless” of these.
The following can lead to serious consequences and even a threat to life:
- hypertension ;
- strokes ;
- heart attacks ;
- sudden death syndrome in sleep.
Who is at higher risk of developing sleep apnea?
The likelihood that a person will be susceptible to sleep apnea increases dramatically under the following conditions:
- being overweight;
- age over 40;
- curvature of the nasal septum ;
- small jaw;
- enlarged tongue or tonsils;
- wide neck;
- hereditary predisposition.
According to statistics, men suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome more often than women.
Why is apnea a closed topic?
Doctors note that people who have been susceptible to illness for many years are often unaware of the causes of health problems.
It gets worse gradually. If a person complains of chronic fatigue, drowsiness, headache, the explanation is most often found in age-related changes, lack of vitamins, magnetic storms.
Even with a visit to a doctor, the version of sleep apnea is often not considered.
When is there snoring but no sleep apnea?
Snoring does not always progress to obstructive sleep apnea. According to medical statistics, approximately 20% of people over 30 years old snore.
At the same time, the proportion of those suffering from apnea is no more than 5%. Therefore, the appearance of snoring in a dream, drowsiness, and fatigue during the day is a reason to take a closer look at your health.
Every fifth snoring person is in danger.
Are there methods for determining apnea?
Like any illness, sleep apnea is much easier to prevent. Scientists have developed several tests with which a person can independently determine if he has a problem.
Assessing the need to see a doctor using the simplest test
Armed with a pen and paper, you can write down and count how many signs of respiratory arrest disease appear.
You need to choose from the following symptoms:
- I was told that I snore loudly or intermittently in my sleep.
- I was told that during sleep my breathing stops.
- During the day, I regularly feel very sleepy.
- I know what frequent urination at night is ( 2 or more times ).
- Sleep disorders have been bothering me for more than six months.
- I have manifestations of arterial hypertension at night and in the morning.
- I have severe obesity.
If a person notes 3 or more signs in himself, he needs to be examined for sleep apnea. At the same time, respiratory arrest during sleep is in itself an alarming symptom.
Determining the risk of developing apnea
To perform the test and determine what the likelihood of respiratory arrest disease is, you need to answer the questions below.
For each affirmative answer, you need to add 5 points to yourself, for a negative one – 0 points.
The questions are:
- Has your body weight increased in the past 3 to 5 years?
- Do you feel noticeably sleepy during the day?
- Do you feel a headache in the morning?
- Do you snore at night?
- Have others told you that in a dream you have respiratory arrests?
- Have you noticed shortness of breath, shortness of breath, asthma attacks at night?
- Does heartburn, belching happen at night?
- Do you empty your bladder more than 2 times at night?
- Do you feel overwhelmed in the morning?
- At night or in the morning, do you observe an increase in blood pressure or tingling in the area of the heart muscle, interruptions in its work?
- Do you notice a deterioration in potency?
- Do you experience apathy, depression, memory impairment, irritability?
- Do you sweat in the morning?
Test results can be assessed using the following scale:
- 0 – 19 points – health is normal;
- 20 – 39 points – moderate risk of developing apnea;
- 40 points or more – a high risk that the disease has already occurred.
Using Epworth’s sleepiness scale
The main symptom of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome is drowsiness. To assess how a person is susceptible to it, he must assess the likelihood that he will fall asleep or doze off in the listed situations.
For the assessment, you must use a scale from 0 to 3:
- 0 – definitely would not doze off;
- 1 – there is a small chance to doze off;
- 2 – average probability of falling asleep;
- 3 – as if dozed off or fell asleep.
Situations to be rated on a scale of 0 to 3:
- I spend time reading.
- I watch TV programs, films.
- I am in a public place and at the same time I am sitting, I am not physically active ( I watch a theatrical performance, I participate in a meeting ).
- I travel in a car as a passenger for more than 60 minutes.
- In the afternoon I lay down to rest.
- I sit and talk with another person.
- I calmly spend my time after lunch, during which I did not drink alcoholic beverages.
- I am in a car that stopped for a few minutes.
By adding up the points obtained, you can evaluate the result:
- 7 points or less – no symptoms of excessive daytime sleepiness;
- 8 – 11 points – drowsiness during the daytime is moderate, is not considered a sign of a disease, but it is recommended to diagnose a sleep disorder;
- 12 – 16 points – a significant manifestation of drowsiness during the day, there is a high probability of sleep disorders, you should consult a doctor;
- 17 points or more – severe drowsiness, high risk of serious pathologies, you need to see a specialist.
And, most importantly, it should be remembered that the results of all the above tests, obtained on their own, cannot replace medical advice. They are only speculative.