Is Sleep Apnea and Headache Affecting Your Quality of Life?

Like insomnia, sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects about 20 million American adults. Incidentally, sleep apnea is vastly underdiagnosed as well as undertreated with up to 80 percent of patients going without diagnosis. On the one hand, a big number of people do not realize that sleep apnea or other sleep disorder such as insomnia are the basis of their ill health condition, particularly headache. On the other hand, some people actually know that they have a sleep disorder but do not have sufficient information regarding sleep apnea headache and the dire consequences of living with untreated sleep apnea. Read on for the types and symptoms of sleep apnea and how sleep apnea and headache are related.

Types of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is largely symptomized by recurrent pauses/breaks in breathing when one is asleep. Sleep apnea is of three kinds as follows:

· Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when breaks in breathing are caused by physical blockages along the upper airways. These obstructions normally result from the collapse of throat soft tissues into the airways.

· Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea happens when breathing interruptions are as a result of the brain not signaling the respiratory system to take breaths.

· Mixed sleep apnea

Mixed or complex sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Among the three sleep apneas, obstructive sleep apnea is by a large margin the commonest as it accounts for an estimated 85 percent of cases.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

· Snoring

One of the most common indicators of sleep apnea is loud, incessant snoring. Although snoring commonly symptomizes sleep apnea, not all persons who snore have this disorder. Similarly, some people may have sleep apnea but do not snore.

· Frequent breathing interruptions

Many people who experience frequent breathing pauses do not realize that they partially wake up during their sleep. If your bed partner informs you that you frequently wake in your sleep, consider seeking medication. Continuous breaks negatively affect your sleep quality and quantity, which almost always results in sleep apnea headache.

· Constant fatigue

Some people with sleep apnea tend to think that they’ve had sufficient sleep, only to wake up feeling tired just as they did before going to sleep. The breathing interruptions plus waking up means that precious sleep time is lost and that the quality of sleep is significantly hampered. Some other people with sleep apnea experience excessive daytime sleepiness or EDS. Persons with EDS feel a never ending tiredness and usually overwhelmed by fatigue and want to sleep during wake hours.

Sleep apnea and headache

Sleep apnea sufferers commonly report headaches. The connection between sleep apnea and headache is that when breathing is interrupted when the patient sleeps, much less oxygen reaches the brain. A low level of oxygen causes blood vessels to widen and consequently results to vascular headache. Since sleep apnea sufferers do not usually realize that they snore or frequently wake in the night, they mostly complain of headache. If you think that you or your loved one has sleep apnea headache, talk to a physician promptly.