There are different levels of severity with sleep apnea; it can be a mild, moderate or severe condition. The treatment will depend on how severe your condition is; other medical factors will play an important part as well. Read on to discover the three levels of sleep apnea.
Mild sleep apnea is when your “episodes” (when you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more) happen 5 to 14 times per hour. You will only notice mild symptoms, because this condition usually doesn’t need much attention.
Moderate sleep apnea is characterized by 15 to 29 episodes per hour. You may experience symptoms such as nodding off when in a meeting or at the movies, for example.
Severe sleep apnea consists of 30 or more episodes per hour. As a consequence, you may fall asleep while driving, eating, talking, working or walking.
Children are evaluated differently, because they are still growing and their bodies are developing. They also breathe faster than adults.
Mild sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily need to be treated, but should be closely monitored. Of course, if you have other medical conditions, it is wise to treat the sleep apnea. Moderate and severe sleep apnea MUST be treated.
If you don’t treat sleep apnea, there are many potential risks. Your blood pressure can rise and remain high. Half of the people with sleep apnea have high blood pressure, so you must monitor yours closely.
You may contract diabetes because of the many side effects of sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause dementia in the end; you may lose brain cells, and your memory and ability to concentrate can be affected.
Sleep apnea increases your heart rate, because it decreases the amount of oxygen in your blood. It also triggers chemicals within your blood, creating inflammation and boosting blood sugar levels.
If you are constantly tired because you don’t get enough good quality sleep, other areas of your life can be affected as well. You may suffer from depression, which makes everything else seem worse. You may find it hard to stay awake at work. If you drive, you may find it hard to focus and, as a result, you could have a car accident where you may injure yourself and other people.
To restart your breathing, you have to wake up. You may not fully wake up, but it still disrupts your sleep enough to make you feel tired. This also disrupts your nervous system and the brain; your heart and other organs don’t get a complete rest, the way they would if you got a full night of uninterrupted sleep. It is also psychologically draining to know that you don’t sleep well.
If you even suspect you have sleeping problems, it is crucial that you speak to your doctor and get treatment. Then you will manage to avoid the other problems associated with sleep apnea.