We know that you love your partner so much, otherwise you wouldn’t be sharing a bed with him/her; or even putting up with him/her terrible snoring for so many years!
Indeed, everyone snores now and then, but for some people it can be a long-term problem. Sometimes it may also indicate a sleep disorder, which can be serious.
Your partner’s relentless snoring can be a nuisance to you, but you are not the only one who suffers. In fact, snoring is often associated with a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. People who suffer from sleep apnea don’t only snore on a daily basis, but their breathing during sleep repeatedly stops and starts. Sometimes it may appear that they are gasping for air during sleep. Such sleep disorders disrupt their quality of sleep, and they often wake up feeling tired and having headaches. Nevertheless, they may not be aware that their sleep was interrupted. In fact, many people with sleep apnea think they slept well all night.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
Central sleep apnea, which occurs when one’s brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea
The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making it difficult to determine which type your partner has. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:
Loud snoring (Note: not everyone with sleep apnea snores, and not everyone who snores has sleep apnea!)
Episodes in which he or she stops breathing during sleep — which would be reported by another person (that is you!)
Gasping for air during sleep
Awakening with a dry mouth
Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
Difficulty paying attention while awake
After a long day of work, sleep is all we want. But with sleep apnea, sleeping like a baby is no longer easy.
If you think you or your partner might have sleep apnea, consult a doctor.
Anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea. However, certain factors put you at increased risk, including:
Overweight or obese. Most but not all people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing. Medical conditions that are associated with obesity, such as hypothyroidism and polycystic ovary syndrome, also can cause obstructive sleep apnea. However, not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight and vice versa. Thin people can develop the disorder, too.
Women after menopause.
Narrowed airway. You may inherit naturally narrow airways. Or your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which can block your airway.
Chronic nasal congestion. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs twice as often in those who have consistent nasal congestion at night, regardless of the cause. This may be due to narrowed airways.
A family history of sleep apnea. If you have family members with obstructive sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
Asthma. Research has found an association between asthma and the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
Exposure to high levels of environmental nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, usually in areas with severe air pollution.
People with obstructive sleep apnea are prone to the following:
Moodiness, depression, psychosis and sexual dysfunction
Pulmonary hypertension (increased blood pressure in the blood vessels of your lung) or right heart failure
Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes
Many of these consequences can be further exacerbated if the person who suffers from sleep apnea is also obese.
The goal of treatment of obstructive sleep apnea is to keep the airway open. To enable that, a medical device called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask can be worn throughout the sleep. The CPAP mask is connected by tubing to the running device. It uses air pressure to hold the airway open. Another wearable device for sleep apnea is called bilevel positive airway pressure (BiPAP) mask. People with obstructive sleep apnea usually start treatment with CPAP. BiPAP is more often used to treat central sleep apnea.
In some cases, a doctor may recommend surgery to treat sleep apnea.
Meanwhile,what you can do, or encourage your partner to do to alleviate sleep apnea, are the following:
losing extra weight
quitting tobacco smoking (this is often difficult, but a doctor can create a cessation plan that’s right for you)
avoiding sleeping pills
avoiding sedatives and tranquilizers
using a humidifier
using nasal decongestants
changing your sleep position
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