Sleep apnea affects large portion of the population. Apnea actually means "without breath." This sleep disorder should be taken very seriously because long pauses between breaths can be fatal. While pauses themselves are somewhat normal, with this condition they may be occurring twenty or thirty times per hour, which is a reason to be concerned. Sleepapnea affects more men than women, although it is not selective about age.
Symptoms include snoring, a dry or parched throat upon awakening, and pauses in breathing while sleeping of at least ten or twenty seconds, followed by a snort, a gasp for air or a choking sound. You may also experience depression, memory problems, morning headaches, mood swings, poor quality of sleep, sleepiness during the day, heartburn, reduced sex drive, insomnia, rapid weight gain, higher levels of irritation, and an inability to concentrate.
Sleep-apnea happens when an inadequate supply of air gets to the lungs through the mouth and nose when you breathe. This disrupts the process of breathing. Usually normal breathing will resume with a gasp or snort, but each time there is a pause, there is a drop in oxygen levels. Obstructive sleep-apnea happens when there is a physical obstruction causing the problem and central sleep apnea refers to a lack of effort in breathing regularly.
If you snore and someone points out to you that you have pauses in your breathing of ten seconds or more that may be followed by gruff snorts or gasps for air; or if you snore and have high blood pressure, leg swelling, trouble concentrating, memory lapses or problems with erectile dysfunction; or if you frequently complain of sleepiness during the day or fall asleep during the day, see your doctor for a check-up. Untreated sleep-apnea can lead to stroke, heart failure, hypertension, irregular heart beat and heart attack.