Exploring the Causes and Treatments of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is often caused by blockage of the upper airway. But other causes include medications that suppress breathing reflexes (e.g. opioid drugs) or heart disease.

If lifestyle changes, CPAP and oral appliances do not help, doctors may suggest surgery to create more breathing room by extracting tonsils or realigning jawbone. They may also recommend implanting a device which stimulates tongue muscles.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when your upper airway becomes narrowed or blocked repeatedly throughout the night, reducing or stopping your breathing, leading to reduced or stopped breathing altogether. It is the most prevalent form of OSA and may pose serious and often life-threatening health concerns.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be hard to diagnose. Symptoms typically surface at night and include loud and disruptive snoring, gasping noises and pauses in breathing. People affected by OSA often report feeling excessively tired during the day as well as negative health impacts; moreover they are prone to falling asleep while driving or working tasks that require their full concentration.

Doctors use multiple strategies to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea: reviewing medical history and symptoms, conducting a physical exam and referring the patient for a diagnostic sleep study. Examination may focus on weight, neck size and any possible contributory health conditions (like heart disease or diabetes ). They will also inquire into family history since those who have immediate or distant relatives with sleep apnea have an increased chance of it occurring themselves.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can be caused by lifestyle factors and made worse by medications, alcohol and sedatives. Smoking has also been linked to OSA; those who smoke are more likely to develop it than nonsmokers. Risk factors for sleep apnea include gender (men are more prone to suffer) and age, with prevalence rising after menopause.

Anatomical features like having a large throat, narrow airway or small jaw may also increase your likelihood of experiencing this disorder. But there are ways to deal with sleep apnea. In some instances, doctors may recommend surgery to open up airways, although other alternatives such as nasal sprays and adhesive strips may help. Positive airway pressure devices (PAPD) have proven very successful as an obstructive sleep apnea treatment option: this device blows pressurized air directly through the windpipe in order to prevent obstructions during sleep.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send out signals to control breathing during sleep, leading to repeated pauses of 10 seconds or longer in breathing patterns, or rapid and shallow respirations patterns throughout the night, disrupting your natural cycle and leading to poor-quality restful slumber, daytime tiredness, and other health complications over time.

Doctors today understand CSA much better than they did two decades ago, as well as understanding it is more than just an inconvenience but a potentially life-threatening medical condition.

Doctors typically conduct more than just a general health exam and questions regarding symptoms; in order to diagnose CSA they will also likely order tests like polysomnogram studies in which you sleep at an equipped medical facility (commonly referred to as “sleep lab”) while connected to monitoring equipment that measures breathing rate, heart rate, oxygen levels and other details about your sleep patterns.

This test may indicate that abnormal breathing is due to neurological conditions such as nerve disorders or changes in the brain’s respiratory control centers, or it could demonstrate structural anomalies within the brainstem or spine such as tumors that could be contributing.

Cheyne-Stokes respiration, which is associated with medical disorders such as obesity and smoking, and can result in rapid shallow breathing followed by periods of cessation is one form of CSA commonly seen among older individuals; its prevalence increases with obesity, smoking, heart disease and certain medications like antidepressants, opioids and sedatives being taken by these people. This form is also highly prevalent among people using certain sedatives or opioids that could increase CSA symptoms further.

CSA symptoms tend to be less obvious than those of obstructive sleep apnea, but can still be severe and lead to issues with memory and concentration. People affected often feel fatigued throughout the day and don’t get enough quality restful sleep, leading to depression or anxiety and increased risks such as cardiovascular disease or stroke as well as high blood pressure, diabetes, or other medical conditions.

Complex Sleep Apnea

People living with sleep apnea frequently report feeling tired even after getting enough rest, increasing their risk for car accidents and work-related issues. If left untreated, sleep apnea can also increase risks for high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease, stroke, depression and diabetes – not to mention it increasing risk factors like heart failure, esophageal reflux disease and obesity.

Central obesity is the leading cause of complex sleep apnea, in which excess fat accumulates around the abdomen and neck area, collapsing airways at night. Other contributors to complex sleep apnea include enlarged tonsils/adenoids/dental conditions like large overbites as well as birth defects like Down Syndrome or Pierre-Robin Syndrome.

Complex Sleep Apnea can also be caused by metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes and hypertension as well as cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease or cardiac arrhythmias, among others. Furthermore, various medications and substances can hinder your brain’s ability to control breathing such as narcotics, muscle relaxants, alcohol nicotine amphetamines antidepressants sedatives.

Doctors typically diagnose complex sleep apnea on the basis of medical and family histories, physical examination and results of an overnight polysomnogram study. They may inquire as to the frequency, volume, sleepwalking/talking while sleeping habits and lifestyle factors that may contribute to their symptoms. Doctors can conduct various tests to diagnose potential underlying diseases that could contribute to chronic stress episodes (CSA), such as stroke or congestive heart failure; heart conditions like valve abnormalities or arrhythmias; or stroke. As a side effect of PAP treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea (CSA) may occur as an unexpected side effect; this type of CSA is known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea (CompSA). CompSA tends to improve with use of PAP therapy and resolve when medication or substances are discontinued; however, some patients have persistent or progressive CompSA that recurs post discontinuation; they are considered persistent or progressive CompSA and may require further treatments or additional medications or substances.


If a person suspects they have sleep apnea, it is vital they seek medical advice immediately for diagnosis. This may involve reviewing symptoms like snoring and fatigue as well as performing physical examination. Sometimes medical professionals will suggest an overnight polysomnogram study which allows doctors to monitor heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen levels and brain waves over an entire night’s restful sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when someone’s upper airway becomes blocked, making breathing impossible, leading to repeated episodes throughout the night that result in less oxygen in their blood and fragmented restful slumber. Obesity, enlarged tonsils or narrow throat are some of the leading causes; other health conditions could also trigger this form of sleeping disorder.

Signs of obstructive sleep apnea include difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking up feeling fatigued or breathless, frequent snoring or the sensation that you don’t feel refreshed upon awakening, difficulty concentrating or remembering things, which can impact their relationships and work performance negatively. Left untreated, this condition could lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), depression, heart problems, stroke or any number of serious illnesses that require hospitalization or hospitalisation.

Children typically suffer from obstructive sleep apnea due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, making it hard for them to breathe through their nose. Furthermore, certain medications or health conditions may contribute to this condition.

Sleep apnea is a common and treatable problem, with most those diagnosed reporting that treatment makes a noticeable difference to their quality of life. But everyone should recognize its warning signs, seeking prompt medical care if they suspect they might have it if necessary. Left untreated, this condition may have serious repercussions such as poor growth (“failure to thrive”) as well as increasing risks such as cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, high blood pressure and depression; for those diagnosed, lifestyle modifications and devices such as CPAP may help alleviate its symptoms.


Recommended For You