Are you feeling oddly fatigued lately? Are you reaching for more cups of coffee during the day as you feel exhausted with a lack of energy leading to forgetfulness, mood swings, and decreased sex drive? Well, you could be more than just tired. You could be suffering from sleep apnea or anemia, both of which need to be diagnosed by a professional to determine the cause of your fatigue.
Sleep Apnea Vs Anemia
Sleep apnea and anemia may make you feel similar, so it can be difficult to determine which condition is affecting your health. They also may contribute to each other, even though they are different conditions with varying symptoms.
Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing suddenly stops multiple times during the night due to the fatty tissues around your throat collapsing and blocking your airways or the signals from your brain to keep breathing become mixed up. No matter which is the sleep apnea cause, your body can’t breathe and works to restore airflow. As a result, your body fails to receive the oxygen necessary for proper rest.
Sleep apnea symptoms include:
- Waking with a headache, dry mouth, or sore throat.
- Weight gain
- Excessive snoring
- Mood swings or irritability
- Waking with a cough or due to choking
- Difficulty concentrating
- Decreased sex drive
Anemia develops when your blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells or hemoglobin. Hemoglobin binds oxygen in red blood cells, and without enough of them, your cells do not get enough oxygen. It may be caused by low iron, blood loss, and can be hereditary. Amenia leads to fatigue due to prevent your organs from receiving enough oxygen.
Anemia symptoms include:
- Pale skin
- Difficulty concentrating
- Leg cramps
- Rapid heart rate, headache, or shortness of breath, particularly with exercise.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Red Blood Cells
One study presented a correlation among sleep apnea in which patients diagnosed with the sleep disorder had higher red blood cell counts. Elevated hematocrit indicates a shortage of oxygen in the patient’s system. Also, patients with severe sleep apnea had a higher red blood cell count than patients with a mild case of sleep apnea.
As oxygen saturation levels decrease the body most compensate for this loss by making more red blood cells to carry more oxygen and or concentrating red blood cells by decreasing other elements in the blood.
Raised hematocrit levels can be an indicator of sleep disorders as well as heart disease and stroke. When the study participants were given CPAP therapy their hematocrit levels decreased, with a protective cardiovascular effect.
How Anemia Relates To Sleep Apnea
Red blood cells carry oxygen to the lungs, but when their numbers are reduced they start to struggle. When the lungs don’t receive enough oxygen, hypoxia or the lack of oxygen occurs. When the body lacks oxygen it can perform it’s normal functions, resulting in fatigue, headaches, heart disease, and more, much like sleep apnea.
The severity of sleep apnea is measured by your AHI or apnea-hypopnea index. It represents that amount of apnea or hypopnea events that occur per hour. Hypopnea is shallow breathing that causes oxygen in the blood to drop. An apnea occurs when your body stops breathing for at least 10 seconds.
Also, the lack of vitamin D, B12, and iron can cause insomnia. The lack of iron that leads to anemia often results in restless leg syndrome when your legs need movement to find relief. As a result, the body is unable to rest.
When To See A Doctor
With any symptoms of sleep apnea, anemia, or insomnia, it’s important to contact your doctor right away to determine the cause. The lack of sleep and proper rest are detrimental to your health.
The sooner you seek treatment the sooner you can get your life back. And if diagnosed, with sleep apnea, don’t worry about the cost. You may qualify to receive a CPAP through insurance. Get started now!
Information provided on the Aeroflow Healthcare blog is not intended as a substitute to medical advice or care. Aeroflow Healthcare recommends consulting a doctor if you are experiencing medical issues or concerns.
Feliciano, A., Linhas, R., & Marcoa, R. (2017, January 31). Hematological evaluation in males with obstructive sleep apnea before and after positive airway pressure. Revista Portuguesa de Pneumologia (English Edition). Retrieved April 5, 2023, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2173511517300015
Peters, B. (no date) How vitamin deficiency develops and affects your health, Verywell Health. Available at: https://www.verywellhealth.com/can-vitamin-deficiency-cause-insomnia-3014720 (Accessed: April 5, 2023).