When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing while you’re asleep. Your brain tries to protect you by waking you awake enough to breathe, but this inhibits restful, good sleep. This issue can develop into major consequences over time. However, this illness is frequently quite controllable, especially when prescribed therapies are strictly followed. 

What is Sleep Apnea?

When you have sleep apnea, your breathing stops while you are asleep. You stop breathing while you’re sleeping, which causes sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or central apnea (CASA) are the two conditions that induce these episodes of breathing interruptions during sleep. The consequent lack of oxygen triggers a survival reaction that briefly awakens you so you may start breathing again. That prevents you from getting enough rest to fall asleep and may have other consequences, such as stressing out your heart, which may have fatal results. 

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The majority of the time, sleep apnea has particular causes, and there is evidence that it may run in families. Overall, there are three basic types of sleep apnea, each of which occurs for a variety of reasons. The types are:

    • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): This is the more common form. When the muscles in your neck and head relax while you’re sleeping, the tissue in the area presses against your windpipe, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea. That prevents air from passing through it. 
    • Central sleep apnea (CSA): This particular type of sleep apnea is brought on by a cognitive issue. In normal circumstances, your brain controls your breathing constantly, even while you’re asleep. CSA happens when your brain doesn’t send signals to keep breathing-related muscles working. There are numerous causes of CSA, including:
      • Low blood oxygen levels (Hypoxia)
      • Heart failure
      • Nervous system damage, especially in your brainstem
      • Treating obstructive sleep apnea initially with CPAP
      • Nervous system conditions like Amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis
  • Mixed/complex sleep apnea: There is also a complex/mixed type of sleep apnea. This form has a combination of both central events and obstructive events.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea? 

There are numerous signs of sleep apnea, some of which are easier to identify than others. The symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Feeling tired or even exhausted when waking up
  • Mood changes
  • Snoring
  • constantly waking up in the middle of the night
  • Disruptions in brain function
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Breathing pauses seen by others when sleeping
  • Night sweats and feeling restless at night
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches, especially when waking up

Sleep apnea in children

Children’s sleep apnea can manifest itself in a few distinct ways. Children with sleep apnea exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Bedwetting
  • Hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating or low academic performance
  • Reflux (heartburn) or night sweats
  • Frequent leg or arm movements while asleep
  • sleeping with their neck extended or in unusual positions 

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Dr. Sheetu Singh may perform an evaluation based on your symptoms and a history of your sleep habits, which you can offer with the assistance of someone who shares your bed or your household. During sleep testing at a sleep center, your breathing and other bodily systems are frequently monitored overnight as part of an evaluation. Tests to detect sleep apnea include:

  • Nocturnal polysomnography: During this test, you’re curved up to equipment that monitors your lung, heart and brain activity, breathing patterns, leg, arm movements and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. 
  • Home sleep tests: Dr. Sheetu Singh might provide you with simplified tests to be used at home to diagnose sleep apnea. These tests usually measure your blood oxygen, heart rate, breathing patterns and airflow. If central sleep apnea is suspected, she is more likely to recommend Polysomnography in a sleep testing facility, rather than a home sleep test. 

Treatment of Sleep Apnea 

For milder cases of sleep apnea, your healthcare provider may recommend only lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or losing weight. You might need to alter your sleeping position. Dr. Sheetu Singh might suggest allergy medication if you suffer from nasal allergies. Numerous alternative therapies are available if these steps don’t help your symptoms or if your apnea is mild to severe. 

Therapies for OSA

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): If you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, Use of a device that produces air pressure through a mask while you sleep may be beneficial. With CPAP, the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air and is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring. 
  • Other airway pressure devices: If using a CPAP machine still gives you trouble, you may be able to utilize an alternative airway pressure device (auto-CPAP) that automatically changes the pressure while you sleep. Additionally, some devices deliver bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP). These provide less pressure when you exhale and more pressure when you inhale. 
  • Oral appliances: Wearing oral appliances made to keep your throat open is an additional choice. Oral appliances may be simpler to use, but CPAP is consistently more effective. Some are made to help you open your throat by moving your jaw forward, which may assist with moderate obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. 

Surgery for OSA 

If other treatments have failed, surgery may be another option for people with OSA. Before considering surgery, at least a three-month trial of other treatment options is recommended. Surgery is a good first option for a tiny percentage of persons with certain jaw structural issues. Surgical options might include:

  • Tissue removal
  • Jaw repositioning
  • Tissue shrinkage
  • Nerve stimulation
  • Implants
  • Creating a new air passageway, known as Tracheostomy.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea is characterized by episodes of breathing cessation or shallow breathing in sleep. These occurrences are brought on by the full or partial collapse of the upper airway. Most frequently, snoring, oxygen desaturation and brief awakenings from sleep are linked to respiratory events. Sleep apnea is usually worse during lying and rapid eye movement sleep. Diagnosing and managing obstructive sleep apnea is critical for improving the overall health and quality of life of affected individuals. An extensive review of the patient’s medical history and symptoms, such as severe daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and observed breathing pauses during sleep, is usually the first step in the diagnosis process. 

The monitoring of several physiological factors while a person sleeps, including airflow, oxygen saturation and brain activity is known as Polysomnography and is an important diagnostic technique for OSA. Home sleep apnea tests are also increasingly used for initial screening. The severity of the condition determines the management techniques for OSA once it has been diagnosed. For mild cases, lifestyle changes like losing weight, abstaining from alcohol and sedatives, and positional therapy can be helpful. Obstructive sleep apnea affects 34% of men and 17% of men in the US and has a similar prevalence in other countries. 

Approach Considerations 

Obstructive sleep apnea should be treated and diagnosed promptly. For OSA patients, board-certified sleep specialists assess polysomnography (PSG) data and propose a course of treatment. The severity of the sleep-disordered breathing affects the course of treatment. People with mild to moderate apnea have more options, however those with moderate to severe apnea should use nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a treatment. 

Conservative nonsurgical treatment includes general and behavioral strategies like weight loss, abstaining from alcohol for 4-6 hours before bedtime and sleeping on one’s side rather than their stomach or back. Weight loss lowers the risk of OSA as obesity is a primary indicator of the condition. The benefits of weight reduction in patients with sleep-disordered breathing include the following: 

  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Decreased RDI
  • improved lung function and arterial blood gas values
  • Improved snoring and sleep structure
  • Optimal CPAP pressure may need to be reduced.


The most ordinary presenting symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is excessive sleepiness, although this symptom is reported by as few as 15% to 50% of people with OSA in the general population. A 2- to 3-fold greater risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders is linked to OSA. In many patients, obstructive sleep apnea can be diagnosed with home sleep apnea testing, which has a sensitivity of approximately 80%. Successful interventions comprise weight reduction and physical activity, positive airway pressure therapy, employing oral devices that reposition the jaw while sleeping, and surgical alterations to enhance the upper airway through adjustments to either the pharyngeal soft tissues or facial skeleton. 

In some patients with a body mass index under 32, Hypoglossal nerve stimulation is beneficial. There are currently no effective Pharmacological therapies. Positive airway pressure therapy lowers blood pressure, particularly in individuals with resistant hypertension. Randomized clinical trials of OSA treatment however, have not found any appreciable reduction in the rates of cardiovascular or cerebrovascular events. 

Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) must be diagnosed for the affected person to receive successful treatment and see an improvement in their quality of life. Patients frequently go through a detailed medical history evaluation that includes queries regarding symptoms like exhaustion, excessive daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and choking or gasping while sleeping.  One of the most frequent diagnostic tools for OSA is Polysomnography, an overnight sleep study that tracks many physiological factors, including brain activity, heart rate, airflow,and oxygen levels during sleep. 

Management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Treatment for OSA can frequently correct its systemic consequences, but it may also result in lasting brain changes that hinder the full recovery of psychomotor functioning deficiencies. Effective management of OSA can be categorized as either a “cure” or “success”. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is often treated using a variety of approaches designed to address the underlying causes and enhance the patient’s quality of life. Numerous tactics are used in efficient therapies. Due to the fact that being overweight might contribute to airway obstruction, lifestyle changes including weight loss and consistent exercise are frequently advised. 

Conclusion and Relevance 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is common and the prevalence is increasing with the increased prevalence of obesity. While daytime sleepiness is among the most prevalent symptoms of OSA, many people do not experience any symptoms at all. Patients with OSA who are asymptomatic or whose symptoms are only mildly concerning and do not appear to pose a risk to driving safety may be treated with behavioral techniques like exercise and weight loss. Interventions such as positive airway pressure are recommended for those with resistant hypertension and excessive sleepiness. There is currently insufficient high-quality evidence to support managing asymptomatic OSA to lower cardiovascular and cerebrovascular events. If you’re seeking expert guidance for the diagnosis and management of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, look no further than contacting Dr. Sheetu Singh. She is a well-respected expert in the field of sleep medicine, renowned for her depth of understanding and caring for her patients.

Dr. Sheetu Singh, a nationally renowned pulmonologist, Director ILD & Pulmonary Rehab Clinic, is an expert in chest-related conditions. She got her training from SMS Medical College, Jaipur followed by a visit to Cleveland Clinic, USA.

Contact Info

Address: Mahavir Jaipuriya Rajasthan Hospital Milap Nagar, JLN Marg, Jaipur

Mobile: (+91)-8696666380

Email-Id: sheetusingh@yahoo.co.in

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