Definition of sleep apnea

Definition of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition, when the walls of the throat relax and narrow during sleep, interfering with normal breathing. This condition can disrupt sleep and have a major impact on decreased productivity and quality of life. There are two types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea  (OSA)

This type is the most common. The cause is blockage of the airways. This usually occurs when the soft tissue at the back of the throat relaxes during sleep.

  • Central sleep apnea 

Unlike OSA, in this condition, the airway or airway is not obstructed. But the brain fails to signal the respiratory muscles to breathe.

  • Mixed sleep apnea

When a person has OSA and CSA at the same time. 

Sleep Apnea
Medical specialist Soul
Symptom Snoring, dry throat, daytime sleepiness
Risk factors Male, overweight, over 40 years old
Diagnostic method Polysomnogram, Electroencephalogram (EEG), Electromyogram (EMG)
Treatment Continuous positive airway pressure (cpap), bilevel positive airway pressure (bipap), mandibular advancement device (mad)
Complications Fatigue, hypertension, heart problems
When should you go to the doctor? Experiencing sleep apnea symptoms


According To ClevelandClinic What is Sleep Apnea Treatment – PAP Therapy

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

The three types of sleep apnea above have the same general symptoms as follows.

Main symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Have an episode of respiratory arrest, then wake up gasping for air
  • Heavy drowsiness and weakness during the day
  • Headache in the morning
  • Can’t concentrate or have trouble thinking clearly
  • Unstable mood and irritability

Other Symptoms

  • Throat dry and sore when you wake up
  • Loud snoring or snoring
  • Sometimes waking up with a suffocating or suffocating sensation
  • Drowsy while driving
  • Restless while sleeping
  • Frequently getting up to urinate
  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

Causes of sleep apnea

The causes of sleep apnea can be different in each type. Here’s the explanation:

Causes of obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea or obstructive sleep disorder occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax. This causes the airways to narrow or close when you inhale, thereby limiting the incoming oxygen supply. This condition ultimately lowers oxygen levels in the blood. The brain responds to this situation by waking the body so that the airways are opened again. This disturbance can occur briefly and repeatedly throughout the night, resulting in the patient unable to fall asleep and soundly.

Causes of central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send signals to the respiratory muscles so that the sufferer’s breathing stops momentarily. The patient will wake up short of breath and have difficulty going back to sleep. 

Risk factors for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can happen to anyone, including children. Some of the factors below can increase the risk. Risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea

  • Obesity or overweight
  • Big neck
  • Narrow respiratory tract
  • Male gender
  • Age
  • old age
  • Having a family member with sleep apnea
  • Consuming alcohol and sedatives
  • Smoke
  • Menopause in women due to hormonal changes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Have certain medical conditions such as hypertension

Central sleep apnea risk factors

  • old age
  • Man
  • Have heart disease
  • Using narcotics
  • Having a strok

Diagnosis of sleep apnea

To determine the diagnosis of sleep apnea, doctors may apply the following tests:


  • Evaluation of sleep history

Evaluation can be obtained from signs and symptoms and sleep history.

  • Polysomnogram

The doctor may ask the patient to undergo a sleep apnea test called a polysomnogram. This is a multi-component test that transmits electronically and records certain physical activities during sleep. These recordings will be analyzed to find sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.

Additional test

If diagnosed with sleep apnea, the patient will be asked to undergo additional tests as below:

  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Electromyogram (EMG)
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Electro-oculogram (EOG)
  • Airflow sensor in the nose
  • Microphone for recording snoring

How to treat sleep apnea

How to treat sleep apnea depends on the severity of the condition and the patient’s health. Some of the treatment steps that can be recommended by doctors include:

Lifestyle changes

For cases of early sleep apnea, lifestyle changes that can be made in the following ways.

  • Lose weight if needed
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid or limit alcohol consumption and avoid taking sedatives
  • Quit smoking
  • Using nasal decongestants and treating allergies that cause nasal congestion or other respiratory problems
  • Avoid sleeping on your back

Treatment for more severe cases

For more severe cases, doctors may apply the following method options:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

CPAP is a device for blowing positive pressure air into the nose or nose and mouth. This airflow aims to prevent the throat muscles from closing. As a result, sufferers can breathe better or relieve symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

  • Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP)

The way this tool works is similar to CPAP. However, the pressure of the airflow changes as you inhale and exhale.

  • Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD)

This device is designed to hold the jaw and tongue forward, creating more space at the back of the throat. It also prevents constriction of the respiratory tract that causes snoring. The device that is worn over the teeth when the patient is sleeping is not recommended for people with severe sleep apnea. But it can be an option if the patient cannot use CPAP.


This is a last resort for treating sleep apnea because it is not very effective and has many risks. This option is only recommended when other treatments have failed and when the patient’s condition is very severe. Some of the options include:

  • Surgical removal of excess tissue in the throat (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty),
  • Tonsillectomy (Tonsillectomy)
  • Removal of the adenoids (Adenoidectomy)
  • Bariatric surgery (tracheostomy) for obese patient

Complications of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that can also cause the following:

  • Fatigue during the day
  • High blood pressure or heart problems
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart trouble
  • Complications from surgery and drugs
  • Disturbed couple

How to prevent sleep apnea

There are no specific ways to prevent sleep apnea. But you can reduce the risks, such as maintaining weight, managing stress, not smoking, limiting alcohol consumption, and more.  

When to consult a doctor

Not all people with sleep apnea snore. But loud snoring can be a sign of a potentially serious disorder. You can consult a doctor if you suspect you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring or other symptoms. 

What to prepare before consulting a doctor

Before the examination, you can prepare the following things:

  • Make a list of your symptoms.
  • Write down the history of the disease you have and are currently experiencing. Likewise with family medical history.
  • Keep a record of all medications, supplements, herbal remedies, or vitamins you take.
  • Write down the questions you want to ask your doctor.
  • Ask family or friends to accompany you when consulting a doctor. They can provide moral support as well as help you remember the information provided by the doctor

What will the doctor do during the consultation

The doctor will ask the following questions:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did the symptoms first appear?
  • Do these symptoms come on occasionally or do they always appear?
  • Do you snore? Does your snoring disturb other people’s sleep?
  • Do you snore in all sleeping positions or only when sleeping on your back?
  • Have you ever stopped breathing while sleeping? If so, how many times did it happen overnight?
  • How fresh is your body when you wake up? Are you tired or sleepy during the day?
  • Do you have family members with sleep problems?

After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination and recommend additional examinations. This step aims to confirm the diagnosis of sleep apnea so that appropriate treatment can be given.

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