Sleep Apnea: What It Is, Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Sleep Apnea

A person with sleep apnea experiences frequent breathing pauses while asleep. Daytime tiredness, audible snoring, and trouble sleeping are symptoms.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea (OSA). When the upper airway is physically blocked, this occurs. Another form central sleep apnea (CSA) is another form brought on by a neurological signaling issue.

The person will stop breathing if the airway closes or the signal is delayed. They may snort, take a deep breath, or fully awaken with a feeling of gasping, suffocating, or choking as they start breathing again. During sleep, this will repeatedly occur for brief periods.

Sleep apnea problems, including heart disease and depression, could result from untreated sleep apnea. Additionally, it can make a person sleepy, raising the danger of mishaps while using machinery or driving.

Learn more about the symptoms, causes, indications for seeking medical attention, and available treatments here.

About Sleep Apnea

Breathing stops and starts during sleep, known as sleep apnea. You may have sleep apnea if you snore loudly and still feel exhausted after a whole night’s sleep.

These are the primary forms of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more prevalent type that results from relaxed throat muscles
  • Central sleep apnea happens when your brain fails to activate breathing muscles properly.
  • A person with both central and obstructive sleep apnea has complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent sleep apnea.

Consult your doctor if you suspect that you may have sleep apnea. Treatment can help you feel better and may help you avoid consequences like heart disease.

What are Sleep Apnea and its types?

Breathing stops and begins while you sleep, which is a frequent symptom of sleep apnea. Your body may not receive enough oxygen as a result. If someone claims that you snort or gasp while you sleep or suffer other signs of poor-quality sleep, such as excessive daytime tiredness, you might want to discuss sleep apnea with your healthcare physician.

Sleep apnea comes in two different forms.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea develops when the upper airway repeatedly closes during sleep, limiting or preventing airflow. The most typical kind of sleep apnea is this one. Obesity, large tonsils, or changes in hormone levels can all restrict the airway and raise the chance of developing obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Central sleep apnea results when your brain fails to send the impulses required for breathing. Central sleep apnea can be brought on by medical disorders that interfere with how your brain regulates your airway and chest muscles.
  • Complex sleep apnea, also known as mixed sleep apnea, is an uncommon combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatments for sleep apnea frequently involve lifestyle modifications and breathing apparatuses like continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines. Surgery may be suggested to address the issue that is causing your sleep apnea if these therapies do not work. Your doctor could ask you to participate in a sleep study to identify sleep apnea. If your sleep apnea is not recognized or addressed, you could lack sufficient, high-quality sleep. It may make it difficult for you to focus, decide what to do, remember details, or maintain control over your conduct. Serious health issues have also been related to sleep apnea.

Anatomy of a sleep apnea

The oxygen level in your blood decreases during a sleep apnea episode as airflow ceases. Your breathing often restarts with a gasp or a choking sound due to your brain’s reaction, which briefly wakes you up from sleep. You generally won’t recall these awakenings if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Typically, you’ll only stir long enough to contract your throat muscles and widen your windpipe. If you have central sleep apnea, you might be aware of the awakenings.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

Since the most obvious symptoms of sleep apnea only appear while you’re asleep, it might be challenging to diagnose the condition independently.

However, you can get around this challenge by having the bedmate watch you sleep or by taking a recording of yourself while you sleep. Major sleep apnea warning indicators include pauses in snoring followed by choking or gasping.

Key symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Often audible snoring
  • Snorting, gasping, or choking when sleeping
  • Daytime sleepiness and exhaustion, regardless of how long you spend in bed.

Additional symptoms

  • Having a painful throat or dry mouth when you wake up
  • Morning pain
  • insomnia, nightly awakenings, or restless sleep
  • Having trouble breathing when you wake up at night
  • Frequently visiting the restroom at night

Is it sleep apnea or just snoring?

Not everyone with sleep apnea snores and not everyone who snores also has sleep apnea. How can you distinguish between common snoring and a more severe instance of sleep apnea?

The most obvious warning indication is how you feel throughout the day. You’re less likely to experience excessive weariness and daytime sleepiness if you have normal snoring because it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of your sleep the way sleep apnea does. Another indicator is how you sound when you snore. As previously said, you should be checked for sleep apnea if you are gasping, coughing, or producing strange noises.

Remember that even if you don’t have sleep apnea, a snoring issue can interfere with your bed partner’s sleep and impair the quality of your sleep. You can, however, stop snoring with the help of some advice and remedies.

Causes of Sleep apnea and risk factors

While sleep apnea can affect anyone, some conditions raise the risk:

  • Sexuality: Men are far more often than women to experience sleep apnea while following menopause, the frequency in women rises.
  • Older age: Although sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, it is more prevalent as you age. According to several different methodologies, its prevalence is believed to peak in people’s 50s and 60s before plateauing.
  • Weight: People who are overweight and obese have a substantially increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
  • Anatomical variations: A short upper airway, a tiny jaw, a long soft palate, a high tongue position, a deviated septum, and enlarged tonsils and adenoids are all physical characteristics that might cause sleep apnea.
  • Smoking: Various studies have found that smokers have a threefold increased risk of developing sleep apnea compared to non-smokers.
  • A neck measurement of more than 16 inches (40.6 cm) for women and 17 inches (43.2 cm) for men
  • Nasal obstruction and congestion brought on by allergies or other medical conditions can also be a factor in sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea causes and risk factors

Central sleep apnea is more prevalent in men and persons over 65, just as obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea, however, is frequently linked to catastrophic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, neurological conditions, and spinal or brainstem injuries, in contrast to obstructive sleep apnea. Positive airway pressure (PAP) devices can also cause some people with obstructive sleep apnea to develop central sleep apnea.

Health consequences of sleep apnea

Chronic sleep deprivation brought on by sleep apnea can make you tired during the day, exhausted, forgetful, and more likely to have accidents and make mistakes while going about your everyday activities.

Additionally, sleep apnea affects the mind. It can bring irritation, moodiness, anxiety, and sadness. Additionally, it raises your risk of developing other severe medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and stroke.

What tests will be done to diagnose sleep apnea?

The most typical sleep apnea tests are as follows:

  • A study of overnight sleep (polysomnogram): In this overnight test, you’ll spend the night in a hospital setting (often referred to as a “sleep lab”) that has been mainly designed to be as pleasant as possible while still keeping an eye on your sleep. This test is the gold standard among professionals for identifying sleep apnea. Sensors in this exam keep an eye on your respiration, heart rate, blood oxygen levels, brain waves, and more.
  • Sleep apnea testing at home: This examination enables someone to carry out a sleep study at home. It is comparable to an overnight sleep study; however, it excludes using a brain wave monitor. When doctors suspect more severe sleep apnea or if you have other sleep disorders or medical illnesses, they usually won’t recommend this test because it can’t identify central sleep apnea. Experts frequently advise doing an overnight sleep study to confirm results from a home study that don’t indicate sleep apnea.


People frequently experience sleep apnea, which causes their breathing to halt while they are asleep. It may be a symptom of an underlying disease and cause weariness and difficulties concentrating. A person with sleep apnea frequently is unaware of it, but a housemate will know. Anyone who feels sleepy during the day should consult a doctor, who can help them determine the cause and the best course of action to take to address it. If you are looking for the best treatment, do contact Dr. Simple Bhandania! And With the assistance of ACE ENT Hospital, you can receive world-class care!!