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What is Sleep Apnea: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment.

What is Sleep Apnea: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to stop and start during sleep. This can happen many times in one night. It can cause loud snoring, gasping for air, and sleeplessness. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

  • Loud snoring

  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat

  • Waking up with a headache

  • Feeling tired or exhausted during the day

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Irritability

  • Waking up frequently during the night

  • Waking up feeling short of breath


Sleep apnea is caused by an obstruction of the airway.

This can be caused by:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids (in children)

  • Narrowed airway due to obesity

  • Structural abnormalities in the nose, mouth, or throat

  • A large tongue or jaw

  • Smoking

  • Alcohol or drug use

Risk Factors

Anyone can have sleep apnea, but certain factors increase your risk of developing the condition, such as:

  • Being overweight or obese

  • Being over the age of 40

  • Having a family history of sleep apnea

  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or larger in men, and 16 inches or larger in women)

  • Having large tonsils

  • Having a deviated septum

  • Having a small jawbone

  • Being of African, Hispanic, or Pacific Island descent


The following tips can help to reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea:

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs before bed

  • Exercise regularly

  • Avoid sleeping on your back

  • Avoid smoking

  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom

  • See your doctor regularly


If you have signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, your doctor will likely refer you to a sleep specialist for diagnosis. The diagnosis may include an overnight sleep study, physical exam, and medical history.


Treatment for sleep apnea may include:

  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers air through a mask to keep the airway open during sleep

  • Oral appliance, which is a device worn in the mouth to keep the airway open

  • Surgery, to remove excess tissue or reposition the jaw

  • Lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol before bed

Coping and Support

Sleep apnea can be overwhelming and difficult to manage. It is important to seek support from friends, family, and professionals. There are also support groups available for people with sleep apnea.


Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, such as:

  • High blood pressure

  • Heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

  • Memory loss

  • Obesity

Living with Sleep Apnea

Living with sleep apnea can be difficult. It is important to follow your doctor’s instructions for treatment and lifestyle changes. It is also important to get enough rest and practice healthy sleep habits.


Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but it is manageable. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, you can improve your quality of life and reduce your risk of serious health problems.