How does sleep apnea affect your breathing?
Sleep apnea includes “apneas” at night, which means that your airway is blocked so you can’t breathe. The soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes when you’re sleeping and causes the airway blockage. Your lungs simply aren’t taking in any air, despite your body’s desire to breath. When your brain finally realizes there is a problem, it wakes you up so you can start breathing again. When you’re awake, you should be breathing normally. This leads many patients to wonder if they have breathing problems.
Sleep Disorder or Respiratory Disease?
Technically, sleep apnea is considered a sleep disorder as it’s only affecting you during sleep. While it is a sleep disorder, it is also included in the list of chronic respiratory diseases by the World Health Organization. A respiratory disease is simply a disease involving the respiratory system, including the lungs. So sleep apnea can be seen as a respiratory disease. However, sleep apnea doesn’t necessarily cause other breathing problems. It is in itself a breathing problem, but one that only affects you during your sleep.
It can potentially worsen other breathing disorders that you may already have if left untreated. A lack of breathing for any period of time, especially the amount of times sleep apnea sufferers experience it per night, is dangerous and serious. It needs to be diagnosed and treated right away!