Women's Health

Menopausal Hormones May Cause Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that affects as many as twenty-two million in the United States alone. These cases range from the mild to severely obstructed with about eighty percent falling well into the moderate to severe category. It’s a disorder characterized by sleep interruptions that can be anywhere from five to fifty a night. They mostly include a blockage of the airways that can happen when the muscles of the throat and the tongue relax when you sleep at night. Overly large tonsils that press down on the airway and narrow it when you lay down at night also causes sleep apnea. It’s most commonly caused by sleeping on the back, having alcohol or certain medicines before bed, and most commonly if someone is overweight.

It’s a disorder characterized by sleep interruptions that can be anywhere from five to fifty a night. They mostly include a blockage of the airways that can happen when the muscles of the throat and the tongue relax when you sleep at night. Overly large tonsils that press down on the airway and narrow it when you lay down at night also causes sleep apnea. It’s most commonly caused by sleeping on the back, having alcohol or certain medicines before bed, and most commonly if someone is overweight.

There are three different types of sleep apnea of which obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form and is relatively speaking the mildest form although there is still great risk involved with any form of sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex sleep apnea is a form where both of the causes of obstructive and central sleep apnea are present in the patient.

When blockages occur, the affected person is either jolted from sleep or in the most severe cases can stop breathing altogether. The brain senses the disruption in the ability to breathe and will wake the sleeper, although so briefly that most will not remember it but people can have up thirty disruptions such as these per night. You may have sleep apnea if you notice that you don’t have much energy and are sleepy despite getting a full night sleep, or you wake up with headaches. People that suffer from sleep apnea are almost always snorers, but they also tend to toss and turn at night, and their partners may notice that they gasp or choke while asleep.

Having sleep apnea can lead to other health issues such as diabetes, depression, high blood pressure, irregular or abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure in the lungs or stroke. Sleep apnea can be a potential fatal disorder and if someone suspects that they may be afflicted they should consult a physician as soon as they possibly can and try to get into a sleep study to gauge how often breathing has been stopped breathing and how little air the lungs receive during the course of the night. The term sleep apnea is used as an umbrella term, but in truth sleep apnea comes in three different forms that differ in some of their symptoms as well as their treatment protocols.