Do you have sleep apnea? It can take a toll on your overall health, including becoming a risk factor for developing other severe medical conditions. Moreover, for many Americans, letting this serious medical condition go untreated for too long can have harmful, lasting consequences. The following article will not only to educate you about what obstructive sleep apnea is. This content will also identify signs and symptoms, what can be done to treat this condition, and ways to help prevent it. Read on to learn more about what you can do if you have to deal with this medical condition and what you can do to help decrease your chances of developing it.
For many years now, so much information has been readily available about living a healthy lifestyle and avoiding dealing with significant health concerns. One of the most challenging health issues that can occur is experiencing a stroke. This is a health issue where experiencing one can be reduced if specific lifestyle changes are made. However, there is still one significant risk factor that many do not even think of. That’s your sleep. There are several key things to consider regarding your sleep patterns that can help you identify whether or not you might be at risk for developing something called sleep apnea. Read on to learn more about what sleep apnea is, the dangers of experiencing it, and what you can do to help treat it as well as prevent it from happening to you.
25. What Is Sleep Apnea?
The potentially detrimental and dangerous medical condition known as sleep apnea is much more common than you think. Sleep apnea can be hard to detect and diagnose is a deciding factor in how many people are not aware that this issue even exists. Nonetheless, sleep apnea is a dangerous health issue. It can occur when your regular nighttime breathing pattern is disrupted during sleep. You stop breathing for a while, sometimes up to thirty seconds, because your throat muscles relax. When this relaxation of the throat muscles occurs, your airway narrows and, in turn, reduces the amount of oxygen that is present in your blood. Your brain then receives this action as a signal that you are having trouble breathing. You wake up to take another breath and begin a regular breathing pattern again.
The practice of falling asleep, having your throat muscles relax to the point of not breathing. Then your brain waking you to continue breathing can become disruptive to your nighttime sleep. It causes harmful consequences to your brain and body. If this pattern of abnormal sleep continues to go untreated, some other serious risk factors come into play as far as you are more likely to experience and have to deal with. The study of sleep apnea includes its possible causes, symptoms, and complications. Researchers and doctors established a connection between experiencing this abnormal breathing pattern and an increased risk of stroke. That is a scary idea to think about. You might be increasing your risk of experiencing a stroke by letting this disruptive sleep pattern continue untreated.
There are three different types of sleep apnea that you could potentially experience. Obstructive sleep apnea is the first and usually most common type. It is the one that occurs when your throat muscles become relaxed and can restrict your airway. The second type is central sleep apnea. This one happens when your brain does not send the correct signals to control your breathing in a usual way. And the last type of sleep apnea is called complex sleep apnea syndrome. It is a combination of the first two types occurring at once.
One major finding resulting from the research is that something called White Matter Hyperintensities can form in the brain due to having sleep apnea. White Matter Hyperintensities, or WMHs, are lesions that can develop in the brain when your throat muscles relax to the point that you are experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. These lesions in the brain are linked to increasing the likelihood you may experience cardiovascular issues. That can include having a stroke. Having WMHs in your brain triples your risk of experiencing a stroke.
Diagnosing sleep apnea is not the easiest thing to do because how can you be aware of anything going on while sleeping? Nonetheless, several symptoms are characteristic of having obstructive sleep apnea. The obvious one is that you are experiencing times during your nighttime slumber when you stop breathing for some time. This occurs when your throat muscles become relaxed. When this happens, you will stop breathing for a period. Yes, this is difficult to diagnose on your own. There are several things to be on the lookout for and discuss with your doctor when diagnosing this medical issue.
Are you feeling fatigued during the day, like you are not getting enough rest? Maybe you are having periods of restlessness during the night, like not staying asleep and waking up often during the night. Symptoms that you may identify yourself include waking up suddenly gasping for air or feeling like you are choking. Another sign you might experience is waking up in the morning with a dry or sore mouth. Snoring is one symptom you will most likely not be aware of yourself, and so it may be helpful to rely on your sleeping partner to help you identify some of these symptoms in an attempt to diagnose this issue.
Having an increased risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea is connected with several different lifestyle factors. Many things can come into play as far as the lifestyle you lead. How do you take care of yourself? Risk factors for developing obstructive sleep apnea include being overweight, smoking, drinking alcohol or sedatives excessively, and having Type 2 Diabetes. These causes also overlap with those that can increase your risk of having a stroke.
The factors described above are ones that you can do something about to decrease your chances of developing sleep apnea. However, several other somewhat unavoidable factors can also increase your chances. These include being male, older, and having a family history of sleep apnea. Others involve having a larger neck circumference or having a narrowed airway. If you have other previous heart and other medical conditions, it may increase your risk.
20. Ways to Prevent Sleep Apnea From Happening to You
Yes, some factors are inherently against you regarding the likelihood of developing sleep apnea. However, there are several things you can do proactively to try and prevent the onset of this medical condition. Making changes in your lifestyle habits is one of the biggest areas in which you can be diligent. You can avoid dealing with medical issues like sleep apnea and other conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Doing things like eating a diet with fruits and vegetables and protein will help keep your body healthy. So will exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol use. These are all great ways to stay on top of your health and keep yourself in the best condition. Being aware of risk factors that come from your family history is important, too. What about understanding your family history? You can do health screening tests can with your doctor to learn about risks. You can identify heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and the risk of stroke through screenings and tests. That way, you can get a complete picture of your health profile. Your doctor can recommend changes to lower your chances of developing sleep apnea.
19. Complications That Can Arise from Developing Sleep Apnea
Several other potentially serious health conditions can arise from developing sleep apnea and not getting it treated. Things like daytime fatigue can occur because you are not getting a restful night’s sleep. Why? Probably from waking up many times in the night. This disruptive sleep pattern can lead to difficulty concentrating on tasks and staying awake during the day. You might also become more short-tempered, emotional, or irritable towards others due to this lack of sufficient rest at night. You may think it is not that big of a deal to wake several times in the night. However, over time, this can become a much bigger issue. It can lead to developing other severe health conditions. Being aware of irregularities in your sleep and breathing patterns is essential. Furthermore, knowing the consequences of this problem is the first crucial step in controlling your health. Early detection of issues like sleep apnea is critical. Nevertheless, it will also help lower your risk of stroke.
Another issue from sleep apnea is developing high blood pressure. You can also have other heart problems due to the lack of oxygen going to your brain. When the body experiences this lack of oxygen for long periods, other conditions that affect the heart can become an issue. That is especially true if it goes untreated. Diseases such as hypertension, recurrent heart attack, and of course, the risk of stroke may develop. There are still several other medical concerns that can arise when the issue of sleep apnea goes untreated. Things like Type 2 Diabetes can become more likely and develop metabolic syndrome. The point of breathing normally during surgeries while being put under general anesthesia can also become a great concern.
If you or your doctor suspects you might have sleep apnea, you can do several things to diagnose, treat, and manage this medical issue. You can take several different tests to solidify your diagnosis in the form of sleep tests. You can complete these options at home or in the hospital. If you have some form of sleep testing done in the hospital, you will be hooked up to a machine that will measure various vital signs in your body to get an accurate picture of what a typical night’s sleep looks like for you.
Your doctor might also give you some monitoring equipment to take home with you. That way, you can measure your vital signs while you sleep in your bed. This can be very beneficial. At times, it can be even a little bit more accurate. Why? Because you are likely to be more comfortable sleeping in your own bed than trying to sleep in the hospital. It is not as familiar of a place! The sleep monitoring equipment will measure your vital signs. That includes your heart rate, blood oxygen level, and breathing patterns. It will all help determine if you do have some form of sleep apnea.
Just as being more predisposed to developing sleep apnea because of certain risk factors, many of those same risk factors apply here. Several factors come into play when becoming more vulnerable to experiencing a stroke. The same factors include being overweight, smoking, and heavy alcohol use. Having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and a family history of heart problems also play a role. The same risk factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of developing sleep apnea can also raise your risk of stroke. Experiencing obstructive sleep apnea is a risk factor of becoming more likely to experience a stroke. This is another chance to emphasize why it is so important to stay on top of your health. You should proactively identify risk factors and symptoms that might be indicators of having a medical issue or concern.
Several other factors come into play in connection with the increased likelihood of experiencing a stroke. Age is a major one, as those over 55 are more likely to be at risk and race; African Americans are at an increased risk of experiencing a stroke. Males are also much more likely to be at risk for stroke as well as those who use hormone therapies and birth control pills. Of course, you cannot change some of these factors. However, you can quit things like smoking and excessive alcohol use. It will improve obesity, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure. Your effort will do a lot to decrease your risk factors and chances of experiencing a stroke.
There are three different types of strokes. The first and most common type is called an Ischemic stroke. It occurs when oxygen-rich blood flowing through your arteries to your brain becomes restricted. When blocked, a reduction in blood flow to the brain is the result. The second kind is a hemorrhagic stroke. It happens due to the leaking or rupturing of a blood vessel directly in your brain. A hemorrhagic stroke requires medical attention as soon as possible. Severe trauma, such as a car accident, can cause this stroke. So can uncontrolled high blood pressure, high dosage of blood thinners or bulges at weak spots in your blood vessel walls. There are two types of hemorrhagic strokes. The first and most common type is intracerebral. It happens when an artery in your brain bursts, resulting in blood flooding to the surrounding tissue. While less familiar but equally dangerous, a subarachnoid hemorrhage occurs when you have a bleed happening in the area between the brain and the tissue covering it.
The last type is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). This is a “mini-stroke.” Blood flow restriction to the brain does not last as long as with the other types of strokes. Nonetheless, this type of stroke still has its consequences. Symptoms of a TIA stroke can look like those of an Ischemic or Hemorrhagic stroke. It is still imperative that you seek medical attention right away. It is impossible to discern the differences in these types of strokes from experiencing symptoms. Medical attention at the hospital is the only way doctors will determine the type of stroke.
A stroke has to do with disruptive actions occurring in the brain as far as not getting enough oxygen in your blood and also the occurrence of blood vessels engorging or rupturing in your brain. While it is not much you can do about certain risk factors that predispose you to possibly experiencing a stroke. There are still some critical points to discuss in how you have control over the prevention of a stroke. Managing and improving lifestyle choices like maintaining a healthy diet, cutting down on alcohol use, and quitting tobacco use are significant improvements. They can help decrease your chances of developing sleep apnea, reduce your risk of stroke, as well as several other medical conditions.
By lowering your weight and cutting out things like smoking, you are improving the overall health of your body and brain and giving it a much better chance at coping with health issues that you may already be predisposed to due to family history. Other things that can be done to reduce your risk are managing any other health issues you may already have, like high blood pressure or diabetes, and exercising regularly. Being diligent about all these things will give you a leg up on staying healthy and maintaining good health as you get older.
There are key signs to pay attention to if you think you may be experiencing a stroke. Several adverse reactions occur in the body and brain during a stroke. The results of those reactions can exhibit themselves in obvious ways. One of the first telltale signs of a stroke is having trouble speaking to others. You might not understand what others are saying to you. This is an immediate red flag that something wrong might be going on in your brain.
Another vital sign of being aware that you might be experiencing a stroke is that you could begin to have some paralysis in one limb or on one side of your body. You could also experience a headache, have trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, or have difficulty walking. If you or someone you know starts to experience these symptoms, you must get medical attention right away. In doing so, you will be giving yourself the greatest chance of keeping internal damage to your brain and body to a minimum.
The sooner you can get to a hospital and begin treatment for a stroke, the greater your chances of having less damaging and long-lasting effects occur to your body and brain. If you suddenly can not speak as you regularly do with others, begin to have vision problems, or experience numbness or paralysis on one side of your body, it is crucial to get medical attention as quickly as possible. There is no time to waste. If you even might just suspect that you may be experiencing symptoms of a stroke, do not delay in getting yourself to the hospital to get help. You must not wait around to see if you start to feel better or if your symptoms begin to subside. You need to get medical attention right away to have the best possible outcome. In the case of dealing with the possibility of experiencing a stroke, it is much better to be safe than sorry.
In the unfortunate event that you experience a stroke, your doctor will take several steps to decide how to treat you once you have been seen. Depending on the type of stroke you have experienced, doctors will decide to take one or more actions as part of your treatment plan. As a general start to diagnosing and treating a stroke, you may undergo a stroke consultation, blood tests, a CT scan, and even an MRI. These are all very informative tools that doctors will use to get a better idea of precisely what is happening in your body, and therefore what the best course of treatment is for you.
If you have had an Ischemic stroke, time is significant in that you get to a hospital. An emergency dose of IV medication can be given within 4.5 hours to help break up any blood clots. It can help reduce any further damage to your brain and body. According to Mayo Clinic, other medical options like emergency endovascular procedures may occur. This is when doctors will send medication directly to the site in your brain where the stroke is happening. Another option is removing the actual blood clot with a stent retriever. Again, the chances to treat a stroke are critically dependent on how soon you get to the hospital to receive care. Doctors can do procedures only within a particular window of time. We cannot emphasize the factor of time enough concerning the onset of having a stroke. Specific options might not be available if you waited too long to seek medical attention.
Suppose you are experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke. Doctors may consider other options in your treatment plan while at the hospital. Gaining control and stopping the bleeding in your brain at the aneurysm site is the biggest priority for doctors. Possible procedures for handling this type of stroke are emergency-related. Doctors can try counteracting blood thinners you may be taking. They can administer medications to reduce the amount of pressure occurring in your brain. There are medications designed to lower your blood pressure, prevent spasms of blood vessels, and avoid possible seizures. Surgical clipping and coiling can be a way to stop the aneurysm from bleeding further, bursting, and bleeding again. Again, the sooner you can get to the hospital, the sooner doctors can begin a plan of action. It can not only save your life but prevent further damage.
Because of the extensive amount of damage that can occur in your brain and body during a stroke, there are some possible longer-lasting effects and consequences that you may have to deal with due to having one. This is why time is so crucial in that you need to get yourself to the hospital to receive medical attention as quickly as possible. This can help to avoid causing any lasting or long-term subsequent consequences from experiencing a stroke. While some complications are milder than others, these issues are all still obstacles on some level that you might have to endure after treatment.
When your body experiences a stroke, several things are going on that can cause severe damage and even death if left untreated for too long. The event of a stroke is due to the restriction or reduction of oxygen-rich blood to your brain. The brain does not handle this very well. Oxygen is necessary for our survival, and the longer your brain and body are dealing with the reduction or absence of it, the more serious your prognosis can be. This again directly relates to the time factor and how crucial it is that you get to the hospital as soon as you suspect you may be experiencing symptoms. The longer your brain has to deal with a lack of oxygen, the more likely it is that you will experience more serious and long-lasting damage in your brain and body.
10. What To Do If Someone You Know Is Experiencing a Stroke
You can do several things immediately if you think you or someone you know is having a stroke. If you begin to experience any, even one of the symptoms indicative of a stroke, the most crucial thing to do is take action quickly. Time is not on your side when experiencing this kind of destructive interaction in your brain and body. If you have identified or suspected that you are having symptoms of a stroke, you need to begin receiving medical attention as soon as possible. Whether dialing 911 to call for an ambulance or getting to the nearest hospital as quickly as you can, it is of the utmost importance to get medical attention as soon as possible.
Have you ever heard of FAST? It stands for face, arm, speech, and time. Each of these words refers to a way to identify symptoms of a stroke. First, examine your face and whether or not you can smile. Is one side drooping? This is a sign of paralysis. Next is the arm. Can you raise both arms in the air without one of them starting to drift downward? If you cannot keep both arms evenly lifted into the air, this could indicate a stroke. The ‘s’ is FAST is for speech. Can you form words and sentences normally? Are you struggling to talk and even understand others? The last and probably most important part of FAST is the word time. If you suspect that you might be experiencing a stroke, call 911. You should immediately get medical attention. Every second counts!
9. This Is What Recovery and Rehabilitation From a Stroke Looks Like
Recovery from a stroke can take several different forms depending on the extensiveness of damage done inside your brain and body. It also depends on what kind of damage was done to either the brain’s left side or the right side. The left and right hemispheres of the brain are responsible for the development of different skills and for shaping things like personality and behavior traits. If brain damage has occurred on the left side of your brain specifically, language impairment can occur as well as the possibility of the development of language disorders. Additionally, if damage occurs to the right side of your brain, the left side of your body will experience issues with movement and sensation. Likewise, if the damage was done to the left side of your brain, you might experience problems with movement and feeling on the right side of your body.
After experiencing a stroke and being treated for it, doctors will most likely keep you in the hospital for a day at least for additional observation to be sure no further issues present themselves. Then once you are cleared to go home, rehabilitation can take several forms, depending on the severity of the damage done to your brain and body. Your doctors will look at all the results from the tests they conducted and decide on a treatment plan for you going forward when you head home from the hospital.
There are several things to remember that can be helpful to a person who is experiencing a stroke. One of the everyday things that occur naturally is the fear of the unknown and not understanding exactly what is going on, as symptoms can be very frightening to experience. Being able to stay relaxed and level-headed to keep a person experiencing a stroke as calm as possible can mean the difference in promptly getting to the hospital. Someone who is very scared about what is going may not be level-headed to decide that they need to get themselves to the hospital and be seen by a doctor.
You can do several other vital things to support and help someone who is having a stroke. Stay with them and try to keep them in a calm disposition. Also, talk to them regularly, and keep their immediate environment as distraction and stimulation free possible. One of the most helpful things to do is call 911. Again, when someone is experiencing a stroke, time is crucial in keeping damage done to the brain and body to a minimum and keeping options open as far as what medical treatments can be administered to help save someone’s life. Another way you can support someone experiencing a stroke is to drive them to the hospital. If someone is dealing with any of the symptoms that might indicate a stroke, especially having any kind of paralysis or trouble seeing or walking, letting them get behind the wheel and drive is not a good idea. You do not want to let them get into the position where they are possibly putting themselves and others at risk of further injury.
7. Avoid Doing These Things If Someone is Experiencing a Stroke
When you suspect someone may be having a stroke, you do not want to say this aloud to them. The symptoms of a stroke can be scary. Thus, it does not make sense to add to a person’s fear and uncertainty. This will increase their anxiety and possibly make them act irrational. How? By denying their symptoms and not being willing to get medical attention. The best thing to do is to remain calm. Identify the symptoms they are exhibiting. Call 911 immediately, and get them to the hospital as quickly as possible.
Two other important things to avoid letting them do and not doing yourself is not giving them or letting them take any medication. This can do more harm than good, depending on the type of stroke they are having. Not all strokes are caused by blood clots, so taking aspiring is not a recommended. Why? Because if the stroke is from a ruptured blood vessel the aspirin could make the bleeding more severe actually. The other thing to avoid is letting them have any food or drink. This is because someone who is experiencing a stroke can be dealing with some level of paralysis, and it is easily possible they could choke on something they try to eat or drink. Again, the very best thing is to act fast and get them to the hospital as quickly as you can.
6. Differences in Symptoms of a Stroke for Men And Women
Stroke symptoms can present very differently for women compared to men. Having some knowledge of this variation can be key in the early detection of the experience of a stroke. There are several critical differences in the way a stroke might develop in women, and they are more subtle things that may be a little harder to identify than the main signs and symptoms of a stroke. One big difference is that women may not have any classic symptoms that can signify a stroke. Women may experience trouble breathing, tightness in the chest, and feeling anxious more than usual. It is essential to take these symptoms seriously. Often, these signs are brushed off or disregarded as just feeling overwhelmed by life stressors. A stroke is a medical issue that needs immediate medical attention to avoid severe damage and lasting consequences.
The biggest thing to remember here is that you might experience symptoms that differ from someone else’s experience. Your body is different from others. Therefore, you may experience signs and complications utterly different from, say, someone you know or heard about who experienced a stroke. You do not want to allow yourself to compare your experience to others so that you may downplay, minimize or discredit the validity or intensity of your symptoms that may be developing. If you are in any way suspecting that symptoms characteristic of a stroke are beginning to develop, you need to get medical attention as soon as possible.
5. Maintaining a Good Support System After Having a Stroke
This area gets overlooked concerning how to keep getting better after experiencing something as scary as a stroke. For many people, this experience was most likely quite frightening. The idea of the unknown regarding how and why these symptoms came on so suddenly can be scary. So can the fact that there may have been some serious damage done to the mind and body. For some, it is necessary to relearn specific skills to become and maintain independence again. And for still others, the idea of independence is no longer an option. For many, that can be a challenging thing to wrap your opinion around.
Did you live independently before having a stroke? Maybe you have to rely on someone else to complete daily tasks for you. That can be a tough pill to swallow. The damage that can occur to the brain and body due to a stroke can be completely life-altering. This is not something that you should have to experience or go through alone. It is imperative to your well-being that you try to maintain a healthy level of support from other people. You can get help from your spouse, other family members, doctors, or support groups. You can get help online or in-person.
The amount of social interaction you have while rehabilitating can play a massive role in improving your health. Furthermore, maintaining that level of health and wellness, both in your body and mind, is important. One of the more detrimental things you can do after experiencing a stroke is isolating yourself from others. Although it may not seem like it, this can begin to take an enormous toll on your emotional state. It can be a debilitating factor in your improvement and progress overall. There are excellent resources available for people who have experienced almost any health crisis, including having a stroke.
Reaching out and staying connected with others, in your family, community, and with others who have experienced similar events is ideal. It is a great way to ensure that you will keep getting better after leaving the hospital. Sharing your experience with others can be a prominent form of therapy. It can help you create and maintain lasting connections that may one day get you through another crisis. At the very least, keeping up a healthy level of social interaction will help you feel like you are not alone. Why? Because it’s entirely possible that having a stroke made you feel just like that. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help as well. Many people are ready and willing to be a resource and source of support for others. However, they aren’t always sure how to do it if you haven’t asked for it. The simple act of meeting a friend for coffee or getting into an online support group can be very beneficial. These actions can be quite therapeutic in your recovery journey from a stroke.
All the information you just received from the hospital can be scary. That goes from the first consultation with a doctor to the various stroke tests. Not to mention dealing with the debilitating symptoms and complications that you might experience. Then you have endless conversations about what happened to you. There are questions about why. Beyond that, you need to know what you should expect now. The combination of all these things can be tough to handle. As if that is not enough, you might have to navigate the concerned family members and friends who are checking on you. This can be very overwhelming.
The challenge of dealing with the symptoms and complications of having a stroke alone can be enough to make you feel defeated. Then you question yourself, competency, and capabilities. You might wonder why this had to happen to you. Was there something you should have done differently? These are all very natural and valid thoughts and feelings that can arise from dealing with this experience. Understand that you may not have been able to do anything differently to avoid it. Please realize that you have the necessary resources you need to get through these complications. Reaching out and maintaining a healthy level of social support is crucial. It will be beneficial in rehabilitating from having a stroke.
2. The Best Takeaway To Remember After You Have Experienced a Stroke
So, you have had a stroke and survived a terrifying medical emergency. Now what? The following are some key points to keep in mind as you begin your recovery journey after leaving the hospital. One of the first things, and quite essential thoughts to understand, is that you are not alone. As scary as the experience of the stroke may have been for you, know that you are not the only person in the world who has gone through this event.
In saying that, it does not mean to invalidate or minimize your personal experience in a way. Remember that you can reach out and find others around you who have experienced similar things. It can be a good source of comfort and support as you are trying to digest, decipher, and comprehend everything you have just been through. The way you reach out might be to your spouse, best friend, or a family member. It may be talking to your doctor, counselor, or finding a support group, whether in person or online. That way, you can discuss your experience with others out loud and hear the things other people have gone through as well.
You can talk about what you experienced and hear about the events that others went through. Listen to them talk about their fears, concerns, thoughts, and feelings. It can be a great source of comfort and support for you as you try to navigate this new chapter of your life. You might find out that someone else has the same thoughts and feelings of inadequacy. By talking to each other, you could discover how that person is coping with those same issues. Do not be afraid to reach out and discuss your experience with others. You will gain a great source of support and encouragement. Likewise, you will try to cope with the things you have experienced.
The events surrounding your experience of having a stroke might not be that clear. It greatly depends on what type of stroke you experienced and the extent of damage to your brain and body. It might benefit you to reach out to the people around you and might have helped you when the stroke occurred. Not having a clear picture or accurate memory of what events took place can be an unsettling feeling. You should not be afraid to seek out others in the form of social interaction. It can help gain some clarity regarding the accuracy of the events that transpired surrounding the timeline of a stroke.