sleep apnea and symptoms

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sleep apnea and it’s types

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder categorized as a serious condition as the breathing momentarily stops and then restarts when in sleep. This sleep disorder leads to tiredness during the daytime if snoring is left untreated. It can also lead to heart problems. Sleep apnea may look like snoring, but it is different from it. It causes louder snoring, there is a pause of over 10 seconds in breathing, or they gasp for breath or choke. There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common type and happens when the muscles in the throat relax. 
  • Central sleep apnea: This happens when the breathing muscles don’t get proper signals from the brain.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is a type of sleep apnea where the patient suffers from both central and obstructive sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea may be a serious condition, but treatment like sleep therapy can prevent complications. 

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 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. 

Additional Symptoms

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

Note that not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, and 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

To treat any of the above types of sleep apnea, it is essential to conduct sleep therapy to determine the type of treatment and equipment that is suitable. The common equipment to use based on the severity and type are:

  • CPAP machine: This is the first device that is prescribed irrespective of the type. It is mainly used for obstructive sleep apnea. The device provides a continuous flow to allow breathing. In CPAP treatment, a tube and a mask are attached to the machine and are helpful to prevent snoring. 
  • BIPAP machine: These are a variation of the PAP therapy where the BIPAP machines use pressurised air in two different levels; one for breathing out and another for breathing in. 
  • ASV: This is a relatively new device and is a smart machine that adapts to the individual’s breathing and produces pressurised air. 

Compared to the ASV and BIPAP machines, the CPAP machine is initially prescribed as sleep therapy equipment as it is less expensive. Apart from the above, there are oral appliances that are designed to relieve mild cases of sleep apnea and also to snore. You can find the one that works best for you. Though these devices can prevent or reduce the effects of sleep apnea, the efficacy of oral appliances needs more 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 below:

At-home treatment:

  • Weight loss
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Quit smoking
  • Stop medications like sleeping pills
  • Change position of sleep
  • Treat nasal allergies
  • Oral appliances which 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


How to cure sleep apnea?

The doctor will first find out if there are other reasons for the symptoms before sleep apnea is confirmed. If other causes are ruled out, then the doctor will conduct a detailed check on your medical history and look for symptoms based on the given information. A family history of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders is found. A physical examination is performed to look for conditions that increase the risk of sleep apnea. Heart, lungs, and neurological systems are checked to see any common issues related to sleep apnea. 

The sleep specialist will conduct sleep studies to identify events related to sleep apnea, determine blood oxygen levels, and watch the brain and heart activity at rest. 

The doctor will diagnose it as mild, moderate, or severe based on the sleep test results. The treatment options are then discussed and provided. 

What are the warning signs of sleep apnea?

The warning signs of sleep apnea are:

  • Loud snoring can disturb others sleeping next to you.
  • Choking or gasping
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Excessive Daytime drowsiness
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