Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Causes, and Effective Treatments

What is sleep Apnea? – Sleep apnea refers to a sleep disorder where breathing ceases temporarily during sleep. The breath stops and restarts after a few minutes. There are many complications associated with this disorder. For example, during the cessation of breath, your body might not get enough oxygen.

In addition, not seeking medical attention early can predispose to many occurrences. This includes loud snoring, tiredness, gasping, and snorting. You may experience much noise from clearing your upper respiratory tract.

Possible causes of sleep apnea?

Many factors can expose you to the risk of this disorder. Some of them are modifiable, and some of them are not. Here are some predisposing factors to sleep apnea you should be familiar with:

  • Age: Sleep apnea can occur at any age, but is more common as you grow older. This is because some of your body fats can redistribute to your face and neck area as you age. This fat can block your airways when you sleep.
  • Family History and genetics: Sleep apnea is hereditary. If your parents have sleep apnea, you have a higher chance of having sleep apnea too.
  • Hormones: Body hormones play a significant role in the size and shape of our tongue, face, and, mouth. All these contribute to how clear your airway can be during sleep.
  • Obesity: This is a common risk factor for sleep apnea. When excess fat gets deposited around your neck, it can block your airway during sleep. This can expose you to the risk of this disorder.
  • Lifestyle: Drinking alcohol and smoking raises the risk of this disorder. It can as well lead to the risk of heart complications.

What are the types of sleep apnea?

There are two common types. They include;

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This type of sleep apnea is the most common. Often, this may occur due to repeated blockage of the airways while sleeping. Large tonsils at the back of your throat can also block the upper respiratory tract. Obesity is also a predisposing factor to blockage of the airways during sleep. Furthermore, this type of apnea can lead to loud jerky movements. It can also lead to loud snoring, reduced oxygen to the heart, and abnormal rhythms.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): This second type comes from the central nervous system. The respiratory center in the brain controls breathing. Here, your brain may fail to instruct your respiratory system to breathe. Central apnea happens when the brain’s respiratory center is inactive due to a stroke. This does not mean the upper respiratory tract is blocked. It is just passive due to various factors, such as stroke.

How do I know I have sleep apnea?

This disorder has various clinical manifestations. Here are some symptoms you should take note of;

  • Cessation of breathing for a few minutes
  • Gasping, snorting noise when sleeping
  • Loud snoring
  • Frequent waking up from sleep
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Difficulty with concentration during the day
  • Headaches after waking up.

Treatment options?

It would be best if you saw your healthcare provider/physician to diagnose your sleep apnea. You may need to do a sleep study or keep a sleep diary. This will help you have a clear description of your symptoms.

Treatment begins with lifestyle modifications. Make physical exercise a daily habit. In addition, reduce alcohol intake, and increase healthy feeding habits. Also, these will go a long way in treating this disorder.

Your healthcare provider may recommend breathing devices like the CPAP machine. The device will help keep your airways open by constantly applying air to the throat. Oral devices are great alternatives that keep the airway open while sleeping.

Similarly, your doctor may recommend removing tonsils that surgically block the airways.


This disorder is a medical and societal challenge. It should be treated as such. Lifestyle modifications go a long way in its treatment.

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