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Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by the repeated interruption of breathing during sleep. This condition can lead to a range of health complications if left untreated. In this article, we will delve into the different types of sleep apnea, their symptoms, causes, and available treatment options.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA), and Treatment-Emergent Central Sleep Apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively during sleep, causing a temporary blockage of the airway.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): In CSA, the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. As a result, breathing becomes irregular, and the individual may temporarily stop breathing altogether.

Treatment-Emergent Central Sleep Apnea: This type is a combination of OSA and CSA. It occurs when OSA, diagnosed through a sleep study, transitions into CSA when OSA therapy is administered.


Sleep Apnea

Recognizing the Symptoms:

The symptoms of OSA and CSA often overlap, making it crucial to seek medical evaluation if you experience any of the following:

Loud Snoring: Persistent loud snoring is a common indicator of sleep apnea.
Breathing Interruptions: If someone observes that you momentarily stop breathing during sleep, it might be a sign of sleep apnea.
Gasping for Air: Waking up abruptly with a sensation of gasping for air is a red flag.
Dry Mouth and Morning Headaches: Sleep apnea can lead to waking up with a dry mouth and frequent morning headaches.
Insomnia and Hypersomnia: Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia) or excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia) can be indicative of sleep apnea.
Poor Concentration and Irritability: Sleep apnea can lead to cognitive issues, difficulty paying attention, and mood disturbances.

Understanding the Causes:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The relaxation of throat muscles during sleep narrows or blocks the airway, reducing oxygen levels and triggering the brain to wake the person briefly to reopen the airway.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): In CSA, the brain fails to send proper signals for breathing, leading to irregular or paused breathing.

Risk Factors:

Several factors increase the risk of developing sleep apnea:

Excess Weight: Obesity contributes to OSA by causing fat deposits that obstruct the airway.
Anatomical Factors: A narrow throat or enlarged tonsils/adenoids can obstruct airflow.
Gender and Age: Men, especially as they age, have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
Family History: A family history of sleep apnea can increase your susceptibility.
Alcohol and Sedatives: The use of substances that relax throat muscles can worsen OSA.
Smoking: Smoking leads to inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway, increasing the risk of OSA.
Medical Conditions: Conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes can elevate the risk of sleep apnea.


Untreated sleep apnea can lead to various complications, including:

Daytime Fatigue: Frequent awakenings disrupt restorative sleep, causing daytime drowsiness and irritability.
Heart and Blood Pressure Issues: Sleep apnea can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome: Sleep apnea is associated with insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Medicine and Surgery Complications: Sleep apnea can complicate the use of certain medications and anesthesia during surgery.
Liver Problems: Sleep apnea may impact liver function and contribute to fatty liver disease.
Impact on Partners: Loud snoring can affect the sleep quality of those sharing the same bed or room.

Treatment Options

Treating sleep apnea is crucial for improving overall health and quality of life. Treatment options include:

Lifestyle Changes: Weight loss, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, and sleeping on your side can help alleviate symptoms.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): A CPAP machine delivers a steady stream of air to keep the airway open during sleep.
Oral Appliances: These devices reposition the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.
Surgery: Surgical interventions can include removing excess tissue or correcting structural issues in the airway.
Positional Therapy: Learning to sleep in certain positions that minimize airway obstruction.
Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP): Similar to CPAP, but with variable pressure levels for inhalation and exhalation.

If you suspect you have sleep apnea or exhibit symptoms, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention can lead to better outcomes and improved well-being. Remember, addressing sleep apnea not only enhances your sleep quality but also reduces the risk of associated health complications.

sleep apnea test

What Type Of Sleep Apnea Test Is Right For You?

Dr. JC Suri talks about, Complete awareness on what type of Sleep Test is better for you?

A common disorder called sleep apnea makes it such that you shortly stop breathing while you sleep. Long-term, it may have serious health consequences if untreated.

You will probably go through an overnight sleep apnea test that tracks your breathing if your doctor suspects that you may have sleep apnea.

Typically, sleep studies are conducted between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. If you’re a morning or evening person, this time period might not be ideal for you. Instead, a home test can be suggested.

You’ll spend the night in a separate room, equipped in a manner reminiscent of a hotel room with your comfort in mind. Bring your usual nighttime items, such as pajamas.

Sleep Apnea Test is used for?

To identify sleep disorders, a sleep test is used. Typical sleep problems include:

Sleep apnea is a medical disease that causes brief breathing pauses while you’re asleep. Throughout a single night of sleep, you can experience multiple recurring instances of breathing disruptions. As many as 30 episodes can be there per hour.

You may have trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep all through the night if you have insomnia.

Restless leg syndrome makes your legs feel uncomfortable and causes a strong need to move them when you’re trying to fall asleep.

An illness of the nervous system called narcolepsy. It causes tiredness during the day. Additionally, you can suddenly find yourself napping all day.

Studies on sleep are non-invasive. The donation of a blood sample is not required. But your body will be fitted with a number of wires. This makes it possible for the sleep specialist to keep an eye on your breathing, mental activity, and other vital indications while you’re sleeping.

The more at ease you are, the more accurately the technician can monitor your sleep.

After you nod off, the technician will keep an eye on the following:

  • Your brain waves and eye movements, which reveal your sleep pattern
  • Your blood pressure and heart rate
  • Your breathing, including snoring, breathing pauses, and oxygen levels
  • Your posture and any motions of your limbs
  • For sleep research, there are two formats: whole night and split night.

If you take part in a full-night sleep study, your sleep will be monitored all through the night. If sleep apnea is diagnosed, you might need to return to the lab later to set up a breathing machine.

The first half of the night is utilized to track your sleep during a split-night research. In the event that sleep apnea is identified, the treatment device is set up during the second half of the night.

Pros and cons of in-lab sleep study: 

In-lab sleep tests have advantages and disadvantages. Talk to your doctor about your test and preference.


Best test currently in use- The most accurate method of diagnosing sleep apnea is an in-lab sleep test.

Possibility of studying two nights in a row- Split-night studies, as opposed to full-night and at-home tests, enable diagnosis and treatment in a single night.

Best test for a particular kind of work- To achieve an accurate diagnosis, people who pose a major risk to themselves or others if they fall asleep at work should take part in an in-lab sleep study. This includes pilots, police officers, and anyone who drive for taxis, buses, or ride-sharing services.

Best choice for those who suffer from various issues or sleep disorders. People with additional medical issues, such as sleep difficulties and heart and lung ailments, are more suited for in-lab monitoring.


Costlier than an at-home test- Although not all insurance companies cover this test, if you have insurance, your insurer might pay all or part of the expense. Before you may take an in-lab exam, some providers demand the results of an at-home test..

Less accessible. In-lab research necessitates travel to and from a sleep lab. This can take a long time or cost a lot depending on where you reside.

Longer wait times. You could have to wait several weeks or even months to take the test, depending on where you reside and the demand for this kind of test.

Less convenient. It’s more likely that taking an in-lab sleep test will interfere with your everyday activities and obligations or interfere with your work schedule.

Set sleep study hours. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., many sleep studies are conducted. An at-home test might be preferable if you have a diverse sleep schedule.

At-home sleep test 

The motions, posture, and sleep cycles that are monitored during an in-lab exam are not monitored during an at-home test.

You can go to bed at your usual time the night of the test. To ensure that you correctly connect the monitoring sensors, pay close attention to the kit’s instructions.

Most in-home sleep apnea monitors are straightforward to set up. Typically, they consist of the following elements:

  • A finger clip that gauges your heart rate and blood oxygen levels.
  • A nasal cannula to gauge airflow and oxygen levels.
  • Sensors that monitor your chest’s rise and fall.
  • An at-home test does not track your movements, position, or sleep cycles the way an in-lab test does.

Your doctor will receive the test findings after you complete it. If therapy is required, they will get in touch with you to discuss the findings and decide on it.

Pros and Cons of a sleep test at home

Sleep tests performed at home offer benefits and drawbacks. You should discuss your preferred test with your doctor.


More convenient-  Home testing is more practical than laboratory tests. You can continue with your regular bedtime routine, which may give a more accurate indication of how you breathe while you sleep than in-lab testing.

Less costly- The cost of testing taken at home is about lower.

More accessible- For those who reside a great distance from a sleep centre, at-home tests might be a more practical choice. The monitor can even be mailed to you if necessary.

Faster results-  As soon as you receive the portable breathing monitor, you can start the test. Compared to a lab test, this might yield quicker results.


Less accurate- Test errors are more likely to occur in the absence of a technician. All cases of sleep apnea cannot be reliably detected by at-home tests. If you have a high-risk profession or another medical condition, this could be dangerous.

May lead to an in-lab sleep study-  Regardless of the outcome of your test, your doctor can still advise an in-lab sleep test. Additionally, you might still need to spend the night in the lab to have a treatment device fitted if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Doesn’t test for other sleep problems-  Only breathing, heart rate, and oxygen levels are assessed during at-home examinations. This test is unable to identify narcolepsy or other prevalent sleep disorders.

Test results

The outcomes of your in-lab or at-home sleep apnea test will be interpreted by a physician or sleep specialist.

The Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) is a scale that physicians use to identify sleep apnea. This scale contains a calculation of the number of apneas, or breath pauses, per hour of study-related sleep.

Less than five apneas per hour are typical in those without sleep apnea or with a moderate version of the condition. More than 30 sleep apneas per hour are possible in those with severe sleep apnea.

When determining whether you have sleep apnea, doctors also check your oxygen levels. Although there isn’t a set threshold for sleep apnea, if your blood oxygen levels are lower than normal, it could be an indication.

Your doctor might advise repeating the test if the results are uncertain. Your doctor might suggest an additional test if sleep apnea is not identified but your symptoms persist.


Treatment options

Your level of sleep apnea will determine your course of treatment. Sometimes all that is needed is a change in lifestyle. These may consist of:

  • Losing weight
  • Using a specific pillow for sleep apnea
  • Changing the location of your bed

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)-  There are numerous efficient medical sleep apnea therapy alternatives. Among them are: Constant positive airway pressure (CPAP). The CPAP machine is the most widely used and efficient treatment for sleep apnea. With this tool, your airways are inflated with the aid of a little mask.

Oral devices- Your throat may not close when you breathe if you have a dental appliance that moves your lower jaw forward. In cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea, these may be helpful.

Nasal device-  Some people with mild to severe sleep apnea have been demonstrated to benefit from Provent Sleep Apnea Therapy, a tiny bandage-like device. It is positioned right inside the nostrils and exerts pressure to maintain your airways’ openness.

Oxygen delivery-  To raise blood oxygen levels, oxygen may occasionally be provided in addition to a CPAP machine.

Surgery- When conventional therapies fail to work, surgery may be a possibility to change the way your airways are built. There are numerous surgical procedures available to treat sleep apnea.

Vital functions, such as breathing patterns, pulse rate, and oxygen levels, are measured during both in-lab and at-home sleep apnea examinations. Your doctor can diagnose sleep apnea for you using the results of these tests.

The most precise test to identify sleep apnea is a polysomnography (PSG) performed in a lab. The accuracy of tests for sleep apnea done at home is adequate. Additionally, they are more practical and economical.


Note: Do not consider JC SURI Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare providers because of something you have read on JC Suri.

You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately.