How Dangerous Is Sleep Apnea, What Should You Do To Avoid It?

sleep apnea

Sleep Apnea is a disorder where one does not breath properly in the night during their sleep. This is especially found in those who snore loudly and for those who feel tired even after a full night’s sleep.

There are three major types of apnea that have been detected, namely

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form of sleep apnea in which there is a relaxation of the throat muscles.
  2. Central sleep apnea: This problem occurs when the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that are responsible for breathing.
  3. Complex sleep apnea syndrome: This is also known are treatment-emergent central sleep apnea that happens when a person has both central and obstructive sleep apneas.

It is important to take expert medical advice for apnea and if suggested go for the sleep apnea test. Prompt treatment helps to ease out the symptoms and also helps in the prevention of secondary complications such as heart problems.


The signs and symptoms of the central and obstructive apnea are more or less similar and thus make it difficult at times to determine which type of apnea one has. The common symptoms of the problem are,

  • Snoring loudly
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Episodes of nil breathing during sleep which will be reported by the other person
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Excessive sleeping in the day time
  • Difficulty in concentration

Causes of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea:

This problem occurs when there is excessive relaxation of the muscles at the back of the throat. These muscles support the soft palate which is the triangular piece of tissue that hangs from the soft palate. When these muscles relax, the airway becomes narrow or closes down when one breathes in. the person doesn’t get enough air and this can lower the level of oxygen in the blood. The brain senses the inability to breathe and arouses the person from sleep briefly so that they can reopen the airway. The person might either snore, choke or gasp during these episodes.

  1. Central sleep apnea:

This is a less common form of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to transmit signals to the muscles for breathing. This means that the person makes no effort to breathe for a short time period. The person can awaken with shortness of breath or have a difficult time getting to sleep or to stay awake.

Complications of sleep apnea:

Sleep apnea is a serious medical problem and its complications can include the following.

  1. Daytime fatigue: As the person suffers repeated awakening that is associated with sleep apnea they tend to feel tired in the day time. They also suffer from daytime drowsiness and also have irritability and fatigue. The person also finds difficulty in concentrating and can fall asleep during work. People with sleep apnea can also have an enhanced risk of vehicle and workplace accidents. The person can also get moody, quick-tempered and moody. Children with sleep apnea also can perform poorly in school and have behavioral problems.
  2. High blood pressure and heart problems: As people suffer sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea they also suffer high blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. People who suffer obstructive sleep apnea also increase their risk of high blood pressure. Obstructive sleep apnea also increases the risk of recurrent heart attack, abnormal heartbeat, and stroke. For those who have heart disease, hypoxia and hypoxemia they can suffer sudden death from an irregular heartbeat.
  3. Metabolic disorders: Metabolic disorder that includes high blood pressure, abnormal blood sugar level, and abnormal cholesterol levels. These people suffer an increased waist circumference and have a higher risk of heart disease. Having sleep apnea also increase their risk of developing insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Liver problems: People with sleep apnea are also likely to suffer abnormal liver function tests and their liver also shows the signs of scarring and fatty liver disease.
  5. Disturbing the sleep of partners: Loud snoring can keep anyone who sleeps near the person suffer sleep deprivation. Most of the time, the partners of those who snore move to another floor of the house or another room to be able to sleep.

How to prevent and treat sleep Apnea:

Though there are no definite ways to prevent sleep apnea, it is definitely possible to treat it. Doctors have been treating people who suffer sleep apnea using continuous positive airway pressure techniques, oral appliances, airway pressure devices, etc. Surgery is also an option for those who have failed to respond to other treatment modalities. Surgical procedures that are performed are tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, jaw repositioning, nerve stimulation, placement of implants, etc.

Final words:

Sleep apnea poses dangerous risks to the overall health and wellbeing of individuals. Thus it is important to diagnose the problem and treat it at the earliest. With the consult and suggestion of experts, a sleep apnea test can be done for the diagnosis of the problem.

Ellen Hollington

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