Sleep Apnea: Causes, Side Effects, Diagnosis And Treatment

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep health disorder. In this condition, the person stops breathing when in deep sleep. This causes the patient to have a disturbed sleep. Individuals with sleep apnea need to be treated so that they can lead better lives. Here we have shared all possible information regarding obstructive sleep apnea.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep health disorder where the person stops breathing in deep sleep. This causes the individual to have a disturbed sleep. The obstructive sleep apnea results from intermittent relaxing of the throat muscles. This results in blocking the airway during sleep. There are many different kinds of apnea but obstructive sleep apnea is most common.

Snoring is a clear individual of individuals with obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is among the serious sleep health disorders. Individuals with obstructive sleep apnea may have to get treatment soon.

What are the Different Causes and Risk Factors of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The main cause of obstructive sleep apnea is the muscles at the back of the throat relax too much when you are asleep. This prevents normal breathing from happening. It may cause a person with sleep apnea to wake up intermittently.

Many individuals with obstructive sleep apnea do not realize they are suffering from this condition. They may think they had a good night’s sleep. The fact could be that their sleep was disturbed 20-30 times due to improper breathing.

There are some risk factors that increase the chances of obstructive sleep apnea.

We have listed these out here:

Smoking Cigarettes: We all know that cigarette smoking is injurious to health. It has been observed that frequent smokers are more prone to obstructive sleep apnea.

Family History: Individuals with a family history of sleep apnea are more prone to suffer from this medical condition.

Excess Weight Gain/Obesity: It may sound strange but higher body weight also poses higher risk of sleep apnea. It is common for people with more fat around their waist to have blocked airways. This could be the reason why overweight and obese people are more prone to this condition. However, not everyone with sleep apnea is overweight or vice versa. 

High Blood Pressure: While there is no interlinking reason, people with hypertension have higher chances of developing obstructive sleep apnea.

Narrowed Airway: Narrowed airway naturally results in obstructive sleep apnea. This could happen due to several reasons. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are some common causes of concern.

Asthma: Asthma is a respiratory health issue. Patients with asthma are at a higher risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Chronic Nasal Congestion: Individuals with chronic nasal congestion may also suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.

What are the Side Effects of Sleep Apnea Health Condition?

Just like there are side effects of medicines, there are side effects of health conditions too. A medical condition often tends to affect other aspects of life and health.

Here we have shared a list of the common side effects of obstructive sleep apnea:

Cardiovascular Health Problems

In obstructive sleep apnea, patients undergo sudden drops in oxygen levels in the body. This could result in strain in the cardiovascular system. It could also result in hypertension in some patients. The condition makes the patient prone to abnormal heart rhythm, stroke, heart attack and other coronary health problems.


Snoring is common in people with obstructive sleep apnea patients. Loud snoring can disturb others in the room. It may result in disturbed sleep patterns in partners.

Daytime Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation

Obstructive sleep apnea patients do not get the required 6-8 hours of continuous sleep during the night. This results in excessive fatigue in the patients. It makes the person sleepy and incapable of handling his routine tasks. Lack of sleep may eventually result in stress as well as other sleep disorders.

Eye Health Issues

Certain eye health problems have been linked to obstructive sleep apnea. A classic example is glaucoma. These eye health issues can be treated.

You need to pick your medicines wisely if you have obstructive sleep apnea. Some medicines are known to increase the intensity of obstructive sleep apnea by narrowing airways. It is important to inform your doctor about this condition before taking any medical assistance.

How to Diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Understanding the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea is important. It will help you understand when to seek doctor’s help. It will also help with a better diagnosis.

Here we have listed out a couple of common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea:

  • If people have observed episodes of stopped breathing during your sleep, it could be a warning call.
  • An unexpected high blood pressure could be a warning sign.
  • If you awaken abruptly choking and gasping, it could indicate you have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Individuals with sleep apnea have mood swings and irritability.
  • Sleep deprivation may cause these people to feel fatigued and exhausted during the day.
  • Snoring is a common sign among people with obstructive sleep apnea.
  • If you wake up with a dry mouth and a sore throat, it could indicate obstructive sleep apnea.
  • People with this condition may also have excessive daytime sleepiness.

These symptoms can reveal to you that the person may have obstructive sleep apnea.

While mild apnea may not be a matter for concern, here is when you must see the doctor:

  • If your snoring is disturbing others and their sleep routine.
  • Your stopping to breath regularly during sleep.
  • If you have experienced several episodes of choking and gasping while awakening from sleep.

Doctor will evaluate your condition thoroughly. He will evaluate your health history to see what help you require. There are many treatments and lifestyle changes available today. The right treatment can help tackle obstructive sleep apnea effectively.

Here are some of the tests used to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea:

Polysomnography: In this test, the patient is hooked to a machine that monitors the patient’s heart movements, brain functioning, breathing patterns and other aspects during the sleep. The test helps to evaluate whether it is really sleep apnea or some other sleep health disorder.

Home Sleep Apnea Testing: The doctor may provide you with an equipment to test obstructive sleep apnea at home. It quite similar to polysomnography tests and evaluate the same aspects at home.

What are the Possible Treatment Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Doctor will evaluate the gravity of the situation and suggest treatment accordingly.

Here are the different treatment options:

Lifestyle changes: This method is useful in case of mild obstructive sleep apnea. The doctor may suggest you to quit unhealthy habits like smoking and tobacco use. He may suggest better sleep hygiene. He may also suggest you to reduce weight.

Positive Airway Pressure: You have a device that can be connected to the nose during sleep. It helps to maintain airway pressure during sleep.

Surgery:  There are different surgical methods that maybe prescribed by the doctors. These methods help in different cases of obstructive sleep apnea. The best option needs to be considered based on what suits you.

The right treatment or health measure at the right time can help obstructive sleep apnea patients lead healthier lives.