Hidden Side Effects & Little Known Facts About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Confessions of a Snore Partner
JOURNAL ENTRY #8:
Along my journey of exposing my confessions of a snore partner, I’ve learned a lot about sleep, snoring, and how to get obstructive sleep apnea help. And when my husband gets tired of my prompting him to look at ADVENT and give them a chance…
I find other victims to annoy — er, I mean — inform. Because the thing is, snoring is so often something we brush off. It’s something we tease or get teased about as kids or within our families. It’s something we can laugh about and analogize — like a chainsaw, like a freight train, like a pig, like a banshee — and even write nursery rhymes about. (How is that old man who went to bed and bumped his head, anyway?)
But after writing out my confessions and all the subsequent research I’ve done to help my husband, I’ve learned so much. So here are a few of my “fun facts” that I share at parties… or, you know, whenever the opportune moment arises.
Did you know…
There’s a correlation between sleep apnea and mental health issues?
In someone who has sleep apnea, the body and brain go to war every night. OSA is quite literally suffocation — your body is attacking you, strangling you in your sleep. With every breath you try to take (no, I’m not channeling Sting here…), you struggle to get air into your lungs, and this is when you choke and stop breathing.
Well, your brain doesn’t know what the heck is going on, and it reacts in the same way it would if another person were wrapping their hands around your throat. It goes into fight mode, and then, because it didn’t get the rest it was supposed to, it never really turns that off. This is where feelings of anxiety and nervousness can rear their ugly heads!
Did you know…
Getting up to use the restroom often during the night can be a sign of OSA?
New findings say that an overactive bladder can be a consequence of OSA. In my simplest, non-medical terms, I describe it as the inability for your brain to go full-rest mode, meaning it doesn’t send the appropriate signals to the rest of your organs. When you never or rarely enter REM sleep, your body doesn’t know the difference between being asleep and awake and doesn’t slow down the production of urine as it should.
Because of the oxygen depletion occurring in episodes of sleep apnea, blood flow is stimulated to the kidneys causing the urge to go. Studies have shown that 84% of sleep apnea patients experience nocturia (nocturnal urination) and take as many 6 nightly trips to the bathroom.
(A personal note: With my husband’s OSA journey, this fact has also stood out to me because he also has PKD — polycystic kidney disorder — which makes me extra observant and vigilant when it comes to his health!)
Did you know…
Sleep Apnea is a leading COD… but is never listed on a death certificate?
OSA can easily be correlated as a cause of death because it’s a culprit for so many fatal diseases and disorders. It’s a not-so-silent killer that never gets blamed, yet it’s known to lead to heart attack, heart failure, stroke, hypertension, complications with medication and anesthesia or surgery, and even vehicular and workplace accidents.
Do you know…
All the things that can make sleep apnea worse?
The risk factors for sleep apnea are plentiful: family history, aging, narrowed airways and chronic inflammation, diabetes, asthma, and gender (men are 2-3 times more likely to develop sleep apnea than women, yet women’s probability increases after menopause.)
There are plenty of things that can exacerbate it — things you can control: Alcohol consumption, weight gain, smoking, and high blood pressure. Manage what you can to keep its damaging effects at bay.
Did you know…
There are other ways to treat OSA than a CPAP machine?
Most people I know with OSA have a forced-air flow CPAP machine on their bedside table. It’s become quite obvious to me that most people know this as the only treatment.
However, there are a few other options you can try. The first is much less intrusive; it’s an oral appliance that fits like a retainer between your upper and lower teeth. It keeps your jaw pulled forward while you sleep, which prevents your tongue from relaxing into the back of your throat.
And then there are both surgery and surgery-less options for more long-term results. Places like ADVENT offer procedures like balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reduction to open up the airway. Then there are the more well-known surgeries like a septoplasty (that’s the one that straightens out a deviated septum.)
And then there are more involved surgeries that can remove tissue, restructure the chin, reposition the jaw, and even shrink the size of the tongue!
I always joke with family and friends that sleep apnea really has no business being as interesting as it is.
The truth is, it’s so much more than snoring. And brushing it off as such can actually be harmful to your health. Through my "Confessions of a Snore Partner" journey, I hope I can help one more person see the light, learn something new, and finally seek help!