Diseases

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night's sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
November 2, 2022
4 min read
Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. The most common type is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea needs to be treated because it can lead to more serious problems.

Check if you have sleep apnea

Symptoms of sleep apnea mainly happen while you sleep.

They include:

Breathing stopping and starting

Making gasping, snorting or choking noises

Waking up a lot

Loud snoring

During the day, you may also:

Feel very tired

Find it hard to concentrate

Have mood swings

Have a headache when you wake up

It can be hard to tell if you have sleep apnea. It may help to ask someone to stay with you while you sleep so they can check for the symptoms.

Visit a Doctor Clinic if you:

You have any of the main symptoms of sleep apnea, such as:

your breathing stops and starts while you sleep

you make gasping, snorting or choking noises while you sleep

you always feel very tired during the day

If someone else has seen you have the symptoms, it can help to bring them with you to the clinic.

Sleep apnea can be serious if it's not diagnosed and treated.

Getting tested for sleep apnea

If a doctor think you might have sleep apnea, they may refer you to a specialist sleep clinic for tests.

At the clinic, you may be given devices that check things like your breathing and heart beat while you sleep.

You'll be asked to wear these overnight so doctors can check for signs of sleep apnea.

You can usually do this at home, but sometimes you may need to stay in the clinic overnight.

The test can show if you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.

This is based on how often your breathing stops while you sleep (AHI score).

Main types of sleep apnea are:

Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.

Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Treatments for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can sometimes be treated by making lifestyle changes like losing weight, giving up smoking and reducing how much alcohol you drink.But many people need to use a device called a CPAP machine.

CPAP machine

A CPAP machine gently pumps air into a mask you wear over your mouth or nose while you sleep.

It can help:

  1. Improve your breathing while you sleep by stopping your airways getting too narrow.
  2. Improve the quality of your sleep and help you feel less tired.
  3. Reduce the risk of problems linked to sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure.‍

Using a CPAP machine may feel strange or awkward at first, but try to keep using it. It works best if you use it every night.

Tell your doctor if you find it uncomfortable or hard to use.

Other Treatments

Other treatments sometimes used for sleep apnea include:

  • Ab gum shield-like device that holds your airways open while you sleep (mandibular advancement device)
  • Surgery to help your breathing, such as removing large tonsils.

These treatments may not work as well as a CPAP machine.

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