Understanding Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous medical condition that is caused due to the blockage of the airway during sleep. Even though it is classified as a sleep disorder, its effects are always faced during the daytime itself. Today we will take an in-depth dive into the causes of this disorder, the symptoms that indicate it and the possible treatment options that are open to patients suffering from it. Let’s take a look! 


What Are The Types Of Sleep Apnea?


Broadly, sleep apnea can be classified into two types: obstructive sleep apnea which is the more common one and central sleep apnea, which is less common but potentially more fatal. 

In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, there is a blockage of the airflow in the nasal passage, due to which regular breathing is interrupted. However, in this case, regular breathing is shortly resumed after a certain interval. 

 In the case of central sleep apnea, regular breathing function simply stops, leading to a buildup of excessive carbon dioxide in the bloodstream, and a stoppage of the supply of oxygen to the various organs and cells. 

What Are The Causes Behind Sleep Apnea?


In the case of obstructive sleep apnea, the most common causes include: 

  1. High Obesity: A high BMI is one of the leading causes of obstructive sleep apnea. Due to excessive fat buildup in the cells surrounding the nasal cavity and the airways, they simply collapse on each other when the body is in an involuntary state. 


  1. Old Age: Another primary cause behind obstructive sleep apnea is natural aging. As the body degrades over time, muscles lose their elastic quality, leading to a collapsed air pathway during sleep. 


  1. Prescribed Medicines and Lifestyle: At times, certain prescribed medicines increase the chances of this disorder occurring, in which case it is reversible. Certain lifestyle choices can also increase the chances of sleep apnea, which include smoking and drinking, both of which lead to relaxed muscles, resulting in a collapsed pathway. 


In the case of central sleep apnea, though, the primary reason is an inhibition in the brain function area and the nerves controlling the sleep cycle. Such nerve disorders are not common though, which is why most times, there is some other underlying disorder that causes this type of sleep apnea. Moreover, it can affect people of any age, even children. 


How Do You Diagnose Sleep Apnea?


In most cases, it is your family members who will see the first signs of sleep apnea. Since the person is already asleep, they are unconscious of the occurrence. If your family members report loud snoring in intermittent bursts, followed by a burst of breath, it is most probably a sign of sleep apnea. Personally, you may feel sleepy and drowsy even after a full night’s sleep, which is the classic tell for this disorder. 


What Are The Treatments For Sleep Apnea?


Even though sleep apnea is considered a chronic disorder, there are changes that you can make to mitigate the symptoms. These include: 

  • Reducing Body Weight

Reducing your body fat and mass can be a potential cure for sleep apnea, if obesity is the underlying cause for the disorder. 

  • Lifestyle Changes

If you are a frequent smoker and drinker, try giving these habits a rest, since these are vasodilators, which relax the muscles around the nasal passage. 

  • Exercise Daily

Exercising daily is a stimulus for healthy brain function and functional nerve cells. Exercising daily can not only prevent sleep apnea, but a host of other bodily malfunctions. 



So, if you have been seeing these symptoms in yourself, make sure to ask your family members about it, and if everything falls into order, visit a relevant specialist, get a sleep analysis done, and get the results. Make the necessary changes to keep this life-inhibiting disorder at bay!