Comprehensive Post-COVID Care Now Available! Click here to learn more.

Sleep Apnea


As the name suggests, sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder. While it is a commonly occuring condition, most people don’t know what is sleep apnea? – Sleep apnea can be explained as irregular breathing that people experience while being asleep. This breathing pause that occurs during the sleep, can last from a few seconds to minutes. 

There are two main types of sleep apnea: 

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is responsible for blocking the air passage of the person. 
  2. Central sleep apnea disturbs the nervous system, in which the neurons aren’t able to send messages to the muscles of the body responsible for breathing and respiration. 


Understanding the causes of this condition is important to move forward towards its treatment. There are different sleep apnea causes – the most common ones include: 

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes
    There are multiple causes, including obesity, excess weight, anatomical factors such as airway blockages, enlarged tongue, tonsils, etc., muscle tone, aging, nasal congestion, including allergies, alcohol, caffeine, and drugs that contribute to blocking the air passage.
  • Central Sleep Apnea Causes
    It involves certain medical conditions or disorders, such as central nervous system disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, brainstem lesions, loss of control of breathing partially, and strokes. Further, heart disorders such as heart attacks, a low or fast heartbeat, and blockage in the arteries. 

There are multiple medicines that can affect the respiratory system of the body. Also, the body’s continuous exposure to high altitude are also the causes of central sleep apnea. 


It is important to consult a doctor if you are experiencing signs of sleep apnea. The common and severe sleep apnea symptoms are:

  • Choking in sleep (severe)
  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping (severe)
  • Pauses in breathing (severe)
  • Extreme increase in daytime sleep
  • Headaches after waking up
  • Facing difficulty in concentration
  • Mood swings or changes
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Repeated urination at night
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Insomnia 

Note: It is important to consider that not everyone faces all these symptoms. It can vary according to the severity of the disorder.


Sleep apnea diagnosis involves tests and assessments like physical examination, medical history assessment, sleep scaling, home sleep apnea test, polysomnography, and multi-sleep latency test. 

  • Medical History Check

Primary care physicians inquire about sleep patterns, sleep timings, signs and symptoms, medical history about any prior disease, and risk factors such as smoking, alcohol, caffeine, obesity, and family history. 

  • Physical Examination

Primary care physicians examine the patient’s upper air passage, nostrils, nasal congestion, tonsils, neck area, and sleeping position. 

  • Sleep Scaling

For sleep scaling, primary care physicians inquire patients to completely answer the questions either in written form or verbally. It includes the Epworth sleepiness scale, an evaluation of sleep during the day and night, and monitoring symptoms.

  • Home Sleep Apnea Test

There are portable devices that can monitor sleeping schedules, breathing pauses, oxygen levels in the blood, patterns of sleep apnea, and other medical conditions. 

  • Polysomnography

This is a lab test that includes sleeping the whole night in the lab, where primary care physicians examine multiple physiological parameters such as heart rate, activity of the brain, oxygen level in the blood, breathing pauses, and movement of the body during sleep. 

If these tests and assessments do not work, then a medical expert will guide you through further processes. 


There are multiple sleep apnea treatments, depending on the severity of the condition. The common treatments include:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure 

In this treatment patients have to wear a mask, which releases a stream of air that pauses through the nostrils towards air passages to maintain the oxygen level during sleep.

  • Oral Device Therapy

These man-made devices are used to position the jaw, tongue, and neck in a way to keep the airway open. 

  • Modifications in Life 

Doctors advise patients with sleep apnea to lose excess fat from their bodies, avoid smoking,reduce alcohol and caffeine intake, and change their sleeping position.

  • Surgery

Surgery is the last option when other treatments don’t work or patients have any anatomical abnormalities, such as an enlarged nose bone. Other surgeries, such as tracheostomy, tonsil removal surgery, removing enlarged adenoids, positioning the bones of the upper and lower jaws through maxillomandibular advancement, and UPPP,. 

When To See A Doctor

This disease can be fatal if not treated early. Now that you’ve learned what is sleep apnea, how is sleep apnea diagnosed, and how to treat sleep apnea? It’s time to know when is it necessary to opt for medical help. The conditions mentioned below help you know when to see a doctor:

  • Itchy and sore throat, completely dry mouth after waking up. 
  • Feeling exhausted, moody, and sleepy all the time. 
  • Severe headache just after waking up from sleep, no matter how well you slept. 
  • Loud snoring, along with choking and gasping. The person behind you sleeping feels pauses in breathing during sleep. 
  • Continuous urination during the night or while sleeping anytime.
  • Facing difficulty focusing, memory issues, and feeling lethargic.



This information is intended for educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have concerns about Sleep apnea or any other medical condition, please see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment suggestions.