What is Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

Perhaps you would have seen some people snoring so loud that others can’t sleep in that room. Some people can’t even go to the sleeping mode in the fully quiet and tranquil atmosphere. Today, we’ll discuss what is sleep apnea; its symptoms, causes, risk factors, complications, and treatment.

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a severe sleeping disorder in which your breathing starts and stops repetitively while sleeping. The person snores so loudly and feels exhausted after sleeping the whole night. It could result in the form of heart issues and blood pressure problems if you don’t treat it. It can happen to anyone, but usually, it impacts overweight older men.

Approximately 10% of women and 25% of men get sleep apnea. It could impact people of various ages like babies, children, and especially overweight people above 50%. Some of the main types of sleep apnea are as follows;

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It’s a very common type and it usually happens when your throat muscles are relaxed.  

Central Sleep Apnea

It happens when the brain doesn’t do signaling properly to the muscles that manage to breathe.

Complex Sleep Apnea

It also goes by the name of “treatment-emergent central sleeping apnea.” It happens when a person experiences both obstructive and central sleeping apnea.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea 

Some of the main symptoms of obstructive and central sleeping apneas are as follows;

  • Irritation and irritability
  • Troubling to focus your mind on one point when you’re awake
  • Hypersomnia (sleeping excessively during the day)
  • Headache in the morning
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Gasping and inhaling air while sleeping
  • Other reports and observes that you’ve experienced stop breathing while sleeping
  • Snoring loudly

Causes of Sleep Apnea

Some of the main causes are as follows;

  • Pregnancy
  • Kidney and heart failure, because they develop fluid and fill your neck and cause disruption in the upper airway
  • The condition of neuromuscular like stroke disrupts the signaling to your airway and chest muscles
  • Pulmonary fibrosis, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, and other lung diseases
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome, acromegaly, hypothyroidism, and other endocrine conditions impact your breathing while sleeping
  • Obesity hypoventilation syndrome

Some of the main causes of both types of sleep apneas are as follows;

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It happens when the back throat muscles get relaxed. They’re supportive muscles to the tongue, sidewalls of the throat, tonsils, and uvula (a triangular piece of hanging tissue from the soft palate). However, when your muscles get relaxed, the airway becomes narrow and closes down when you inhale.

When you don’t get sufficient air, then it decreases the oxygen level in the blood. Your brain takes the notice of your incapability to breath, and it makes you wake up briefly from sleeping in order to open the airway and start breathing again. However, the process of waking up for air and breathing is so brief and short that you don’t remember it.

It’s possible that you would gasp, choke, and snort. It develops a pattern of doing it repetitively for roundabout 30 times in one hour. However, it disturbs and impairs your capability to go to deep sleep.

Causes of Central Sleep Apnea

It’s not a common type of sleeping disorder and it usually happens when your brain doesn’t send the signals and pulses to the breathing muscles. It means that you don’t have to make any effort for breathing for a while. The breathing shortening would start occurring and it makes it difficult for you to maintain your sleep.

Risk Factors 

Some of the main risk factors relevant to both types of sleeping apneas are as follows;

Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Medical Condition: obstructive sleeping apneas could amplify the risk of Parkinson’s disease, diabetes type-2, higher blood pressure, congestive heart failure, asthma, lung disease, prior stroke, hormonal disorder, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
  • Nasal Congestion: You would develop it if you have allergies, anatomical problems, and troubling to breathing through the nose.  
  • Smocking: they’re 3 times more at the risk of developing it because smocking amplifies fluid retention and inflammation in the upper airway.
  • Usage of Tranquilizers/Sedatives/Alcohol: it further relaxes the throat muscles and aggravates the condition
  • Family History: your family history of sleeping apneas condition amplifies your chances of getting it
  • Older: the condition is common among old age adults
  • Male: males are 3 times more like to develop this condition, and females could develop it if they have got an over-weight problem. It usually happens among women after the menopause
  • Narrowed Airway: narrow throat could be hereditary, and the size of adenoids and tonsils could increase and they’d block the airways, especially among young children
  • Neck Circumference: the thicker neck people would face the problem of a narrowed airway
  • Excess Weight: the upper airways of fat people would disrupt their breathing

Risks of Central Sleep Apnea

  • Stroke: it amplifies the chances of getting the heart stroke
  • Pain Relief Narcotic Medications: long term usage of methadone and opioid medication cause this condition
  • Heart Disorder: it amplifies the risk of heart failure
  • Male: males are more susceptible to it than females
  • Older: middle ages and older adults are more like to develop this condition

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Some of the main treatment methods of sleep apnea are as follows;

Conservative Treatment

  • People should consider using breathing strips and nasal sprays in order to deal with snoring and nasal congestion and improve the airflow. You should avoid sleep deprivation.
  • You can manage the mild conditions of sleeping apneas by changing the sleeping position or using the pillow
  • People facing sleeping apneas condition should avoid using sleeping pills and alcohol because they relax the airway and prolong the condition
  • If your apneic condition is happing due to the overweight issue, then you should lose weight. You’ll start seeing the difference by losing weight roundabout 10%.

Mechanical Therapy

  • PAP (Positive Airway Pressure) Therapy: it’s a very good approach for dealing with obstructive sleeping apneas in the initial stages. Patients have to wear masks on their mouth/nose, and the air blower pushes the air into the mouth and nose gently. The adjustment of air pressure doesn’t collapse the upper airway tissue while sleeping. PAP therapy doesn’t let the airway close down. The symptoms could return once you stop the PAP therapy.

Mandibular Advancement Devices

It’s a very good device for patients dealing with mild to moderate obstructive sleeping apnea. They stop the tongue from blocking the throat and ease breathing, and they would help you to keep the airway open while sleeping. Your doctor would suggest whether it’s the best treatment for you or not.

Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator

It’s the process of implanting the stimulator on the right side of your chest under the skin with electrodes. You can turn on the device with the remote control while going to bed. The hypoglossal nerve would get stimulation with every breath, and it moves the tongue forward and opens the airway.


Surgery is a very good treatment for those who only snore and don’t have sleeping apneas of any kind. There are various types for different types of malfunctioning tissues that obstruct the airflow in the throat and nose. You can apply the surgical procedure when any of the sleeping apneas treatment is not working. Some of the main types of surgeries are as follows;

  • Nasal Surgery: it’s the process of correcting the deviated septum and other nasal obstruction
  • Mandibular/Maxillary Advancement Surgery: it’s the procedure of correcting the throat and facial obstructions and abnormalities that cause the sleeping apneas.
  • UPPP: it’s the process of removing the soft tissues from the palate and back of the throat, and increasing the width of the airway in order to open the throat
  • Tonsillectomy: it’s the surgical procedure of removing the tonsillar tissues from the back of your throat
  • Somnoplasty: it’s an invasive procedure that employs radiofrequency to reduce the size of soft tissues in the upper airway

Conclusion: What is Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is sleep apnea; its symptoms, causes, risk factors, and treatment; we’ve realized that sleep apnea could badly impact your life. If any of your acquaintances are exhibiting the abovementioned symptoms, then you should recommend them to see the doctor in your area.