sleep apnea and symptoms

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sleep apnea and its types

Sleep apnea is a significant sleep disorder characterized by temporary breathing interruptions and restarts during sleep. If untreated, it leads to daytime fatigue and potential heart issues. Although it may resemble snoring, sleep apnea is distinct. It involves louder snoring, 10-second breathing pauses, gasping, or choking. Three types exist:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Most common, muscles in the throat relax.
  • Central sleep apnea: Breathing muscles lack brain signals.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: Mix of central and obstructive apnea.

Despite its severity, sleep therapy can mitigate complications, emphasizing the importance of treatment.

symptoms of sleep apnea

The symptoms of all three types of sleep apnea overlap, and it becomes difficult to determine the type you have. The most common sleep apnea symptoms are:

  • Disruptions in breathing can sometimes become laboured or even stop for a few seconds.
  • Irritability
  • Morning Headache
  • Daytime tiredness, fatigue, and sleepiness
  • Memory problems
  • Unable to stay focused with a limited span of attention or inability to think clearly
  • Night sweat

The above symptoms are due to decreased oxygen levels and poor sleep. 


Snoring is loud, accompanied by gasping or snoring that leads to wakefulness. 

  • Nocturia or frequent need to urinate at night.
  • Dry mouth 
  • Sore throat in the morning
  • Depression

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea; usually, those who have this sleep disorder will not be aware of it, but a roommate or a bed partner finds the issue. For those who stay alone, daytime sleepiness is a likely symptom. 

equipment to use for sleep apnea

Treating any sleep apnea necessitates undergoing sleep therapy, which determines the appropriate treatment and equipment. Depending on type and severity, standard equipment includes:

  • CPAP machine: Typically used for obstructive sleep apnea, it delivers continuous airflow via a mask and tube, preventing snoring and ensuring unobstructed breathing.
  • BIPAP machine: These variations of PAP therapy offer distinct pressure levels for inhaling and exhaling.
  • ASV: An advanced device adjusting airflow based on the individual’s breathing patterns.

Initially, CPAP machines are cost-effective and widely prescribed. Oral appliances are also available, especially for mild cases and snoring relief. Although they alleviate sleep apnea effects, the efficacy of oral appliances requires further research.

treatment for sleep apnea/ sleep apnea diagnosed?

The treatment for sleep apnea depends on the severity. It can be any or some of the following:


  • Weight loss
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Stop medications like sleeping pills
  • Change the position of sleep
  • Treat nasal allergies
  • Oral appliances that open the airway when you are asleep. 
  • Positive Airway Pressure
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, CPAP
  • Bilevel positive airway pressure, BiPAP
  • Automatic Positive Airway Pressure, APAP


You might need surgery if you have an overbite, enlarged tonsils, or a deviated nasal septum. The common surgeries for sleep apnea are:

  • Nasal surgery
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, UPPP
  • Mandibular maxillomandibular advancement surgery

Other treatment choices for sleep apnea

  • Somnoplasty
  • Upper Airway Stimulation, UAS
  • Medications


1. How to cure sleep apnea?

To address sleep apnea, a comprehensive approach is taken. Initially, the doctor assesses potential underlying causes, excluding other factors contributing to the symptoms. Once sleep apnea is suspected, a detailed examination of medical history and symptoms occurs. A family history of sleep disorders is considered, and a thorough physical evaluation is conducted to identify factors that elevate sleep apnea risk. The examination encompasses heart, lung, and neurological assessments to detect related issues.

Next, a sleep specialist administers sleep studies to pinpoint sleep apnea events, gauge blood oxygen levels, and observe brain and heart activity during rest. The gathered data aids in categorizing the condition as mild, moderate, or severe based on sleep test results.

Following diagnosis, treatment options are discussed and tailored to the severity of the case. This comprehensive diagnostic and treatment journey ensures effective management of sleep apnea, enhancing the patient’s overall quality of life.

2. What are the warning signs of sleep apnea?

  • Loud Snoring: Disruptive snoring that can disturb sleep for both you and those around you.
  • Choking or Gasping: Sudden choking or gasping for breath during sleep.
  • Pauses in Breathing: Intermittent breathing pauses during sleep, often followed by abrupt awakenings.
  • Excessive Daytime Drowsiness: Overwhelming daytime sleepiness, difficulty staying awake, and diminished alertness.

If you notice these signs, seeking medical evaluation is crucial to determine if sleep apnea is a concern and to explore appropriate treatment options.

3. What are the dangers of sleep apnea?

The dangers of sleep apnea include:

  • Cardiovascular Issues: Sleep apnea can increase the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and irregular heartbeats.
  • Daytime Fatigue: Persistent exhaustion can impair daily functioning, leading to accidents and reduced productivity.
  • Cognitive Impairment: Memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and cognitive decline are common.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Sleep apnea is linked to diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
  • Mood Disorders: It can trigger mood swings, irritability, depression, and anxiety.
  • Complications during Surgery: Breathing problems during anaesthesia can arise.
  • Decreased Quality of Life: Impaired overall well-being and diminished life quality.
  • Increased Risk of Accidents: Greater susceptibility to accidents due to impaired alertness.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment are crucial to mitigate these risks associated with sleep apnea.

4. What is the leading cause of sleep apnea?

The primary cause of sleep apnea is the relaxation of muscles in the throat and tongue, leading to partial or complete airway blockage during sleep. This results in breathing interruptions and lowered oxygen levels, triggering the body to awaken to restore normal breathing briefly. Various factors contribute to muscle relaxation, including obesity, ageing, anatomical characteristics, and lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol consumption. Sleep apnea can also be influenced by genetics and family history.

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