Sleep Apnea : What You Need to Know

Sleep Apnea : What You Need to Know

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts. You might have sleep apnea if you snore loudly, and you are feeling tired even after a full night’s sleep.

The main types of sleep apnea are as follows:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the prevalent form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
  • Central sleep apnea, which happens when your brain does not send appropriate signals to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

If you think you may have any kind of sleep apnea, visit your physician. Treatment can relieve your symptoms and can help prevent heart problems and other complications.


The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap, sometimes making the type of sleep apnea more challenging to determine. The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas contain:

  • Loud snoring, which is usually more prominent in obstructive sleep apnea
  • Episodes of breathing cessation during sleep observed by another person
  • Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, which likely signals central sleep apnea
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Attention problems
  • Irritability

When to see a doctor

Consult a medical professional if you encounter, or if your spouse finds out, the following:

  • Snoring loudly enough to disturb the sleep of yourself or others
  • Shortness of breath, gasping for air or choking that awakens you from sleep
  • Irregular pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you are working, watching television or even driving

Lots of individuals don’t think of snoring as a indication of something potentially severe, and not everyone who has sleep apnea snores. But make certain to speak with your physician if you experience loud snoring, particularly snoring that is punctuated by periods of silence.

Ask your physician about any sleep problem that leaves you chronically exhausted, irritable and exhausted. Excessive daytime drowsiness (hypersomnia) may be caused by sleep apnea or to other disorders, such as narcolepsy.

Causes of obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles at the back of your throat relax.

When the muscles relax, your airway narrows or closes as you breathe, and you can not get a decent breath in. This may diminish the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Your brain senses this inability to breathe and temporarily rouses you from sleep so you can reopen your airway. This stirring is usually so short that you don’t recall it.

This pattern can repeat itself five to 30 times or more every hour, all night long. These disruptions impair your ability to achieve the desired deep, restful stages of sleep, and you will probably feel tired during your waking hours.

Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea might not bear in mind that their sleep was interrupted. In actuality, some people with this sort of sleep apnea believe they sleep well all night.

Causes of central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea is a less common type of sleep apnea which occurs when your mind fails to transmit signals to your breathing muscles. As a result, you make no attempt to breathe for a brief time period. You may wake up with shortness of breath or have a hard time getting to sleep or staying asleep.

Risk factors

Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even kids. But there are factor that increase chances of having sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea

  • Excess Weight. Individuals who are obese have four times the risk of sleep apnea that individuals who are a normal weight individuals do. However, not everyone who has sleep apnea is obese.
  • Neck Circumference. Individuals with thicker necks may have narrower airways. For men, the risk increases if neck circumference is 17 inches (43 centimeters) and bigger.
  • Narrowed Airway. You might have a naturally narrow throat. Or, tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged and obstruct the airway, especially in children with sleep apnea.
  • Being Male. However, women increase their risk when they are obese, and their risk also seems to rise after menopause.
  • Being Older. Sleep apnea occurs significantly more frequently in older adults.
  • Family History. When you have family members with sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
  • Use of Alcohol, Sedatives, or Tranquilizers. These chemicals relax the muscles in your throat.
  • Smoking. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than are those who have never smoked. This risk likely drops after you stop smoking.
  • Nasal Congestion. If you have trouble breathing through your nose — if it is from a real problem or allergies — you are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea

  • Being Older. Middle-aged and elderly people have a greater chance of sleep apnea.
  • Heart Disorders. People with congestive heart failure are far more vulnerable to central sleep apnea.
  • Using Narcotic Pain Medications. Opioid drugs, especially long-acting ones like methadone, increase the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Stroke. People who have had a stroke are more vulnerable to central sleep apnea or treatment-emergent central sleep apnea.


  • Daytime Fatigue. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make ordinary, restorative sleep impossible. People with sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, irritability and fatigue.
    You might have difficulty concentrating and wind up falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving. Individuals with sleep apnea have a higher risk of motor vehicle and workplace injuries.
    You could also feel quick tempered, moody or depressed. Children and adolescents with sleep apnea can do poorly in school or have behaviour issues.
  • High Blood Pressure or Heart Problems. Sudden drops in blood sugar levels that occur during sleep apnea raise blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. In case you have obstructive sleep apnea, then your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) is greater than if you do not.
    Obstructive sleep apnea may increase the risk of recurrent heart attack, and abnormal heartbeats, such as atrial fibrillation. Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of stroke. When there’s underlying heart disease, these multiple episodes of low blood sugar (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can lead to sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
  • Type 2 Diabetes. Individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes compared with people without the sleep disorder.
  • Metabolic Syndrome. This disease is a group of other risk factors associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. The conditions which make up metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, higher blood glucose and an increased waist circumference.
  • Complications with Medications and Surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea can also be an issue with certain medications and general anesthesia. Individuals with sleep apnea may be more likely to experience complications after major surgery because they are prone to breathing problems, particularly when sedated and lying on their backs. Before you have surgery, tell your doctor that you have sleep apnea and how it’s treated.
  • Liver Issues. Individuals with sleep apnea are more likely to have abnormal results on liver function tests, and their livers are more likely to show signs of scarring. This is a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
  • Sleep-Deprived Partners. Loud snoring can keep those around you from getting good rest and eventually disrupt your relationships. It’s not unusual for a spouse to go to another area, or even on a different floor of the home, to have the ability to sleep. Many bed partners of people who snore may be sleep-deprived also.
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