What is Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder which usually occurs when an individual’s normal breathing is interrupted during sleep. Typically, people who are diagnosed with sleep apnea tend to stop breathing frequently during sleep time.

The interruption of normal breathing can occur once or several times. The condition deprives the brain and other body organs of enough oxygen which can turn out to be catastrophic.

Normal breathing resumes after sometimes usually with a heavy snoring or irritating sound. Sleep apnea is a repetitive condition, and when it occurs, the affected person moves out of very deep sleep into somehow light sleep.

Overview of the Condition

In most cases, the condition goes undiagnosed since doctors are unable to detect it during your routine medical checkups.

Sleep Apnea? Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

There is also no any blood test that can be performed to assist in identifying the condition. On the other hand, a significant number of people who are affected by the disorder don’t recognize that they have it since it only manifests when they are asleep.

The only person who can notice the disease is a close family member or a bed partner. Sleep apnea can make a person wake up in the morning feeling unrefreshed and tired even though they have had extended hours of sleep.

You may also feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating on other duties or fall asleep unintentionally. Sleep apnea can also cause other medical complications such as depression, stroke, high blood pressure, and heart diseases.

Types of the Disorder

The two known types of the disorder are obstructive sleep apnea and the central sleep apnea. The most prevalent type is the obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which is usually caused by the blockage of the only airway in the throat when the elastic tissues in the rear part of the throat collapse during sleep.

The blocking of the soft tissue results in partial or complete breathing pauses. Whenever the victim tries to breathe, the squeezing of the air past the blocked throat tissue causes consistent snoring. OSA is prevalent among individuals who are obese but can also affect anyone.

The other type of the disorder which isn’t common is the central sleep apnea (CSA). Unlike the OSA, the airway isn’t blocked, but your brain doesn’t send the necessary signals to the muscles that initiate breathing.

This is usually due to a miscommunication in the central respiratory control center. The brain part that controls breathing fails to send signals to the breathing muscles hence your body doesn’t make any attempt to breathe for some time. CSA can occur together with the OSA or alone.
What is Sleep Apnea?


The prevalent symptoms of the disorder include;

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Loud and frequent snoring at night
  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Morning headaches
  • Gasping and choking sounds as you sleep

What Are the Main Causes of the Condition?

In children, the leading causes of OSA include enlarged adenoids or tonsils and other related dental conditions such as a massive overbite. The less common cause of OSA in children includes a tumor in the airway or congenital disabilities such as the Pierre-Robin Syndrome and the Down syndrome.

In adults, the leading cause of OSA is obesity and excess weight which is usually associated with a soft tissue of the throat and the tongue.

The soft tissue can cause the airway to be blocked at night when both the tongue and the mouth muscles are relaxed. However, several other factors are associated with OSA in adults.

The other risk factors include smoking and excessive alcohol use, genetic factors such as a thick neck, narrow throat, and round head. Excessive and abnormal growth due to overproduction of the growth hormones can also lead to sleep apnea.


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