What Is Sleep Apnea and How to Prevent It?

Sleep apnea, a severe sleep disorder, occurs when an individual’s breathing has one or more pauses while asleep. When you suffer from sleep apnea, breathing stops frequently during sleep. Breathing pauses normally last between ten to twenty seconds and this happens hundreds of times in a night.


It is a chronic condition that interrupts your sleep. You frequently shift from deep sleep to light sleep whenever your breathing stops or pauses. This leads to lack of sleep and can result in tiredness during daytime.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common of the two types of sleep apnea. OSA occurs after a soft tissue in the backside of your throat collapses while asleep, causing airway blockage.

Central sleep apnea (CSA) is a less common type of apnea that doesn’t involve airway blockage but your brain could not be able to indicate the muscles, which manage breathing.

You may not be able to recognize the signs of this disorder on your own, as the main signs take place only while you are sleeping. Yet, you can take the help of your bed partner to watch your sleep behavior.

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea

The main symptoms that indicate sleep apnea are loud snoring, choking, out of breath while sleep, snorting, long breathing pauses, and daytime sleepiness.

The other signs of sleep apnea include morning headaches, insomnia, restless sleep, grumpiness, depression, irritability, dry mouth, frequent visits to bathrooms, forgetfulness, and difficulty in concentrating.

Sleep apnea risk factors

Sleep apnea risk factors include overweight, male, age above 40, family history with sleep apnea, large neck size, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and nasal obstruction.

If you do not take proper treatment for sleep apnea, it can result in other health problems such as stroke, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, depression, and weight gain.

When you have sleep apnea, your physician will carry out complete physical exam. This includes examining your throat, neck, and mouth. Sleep study is conducted to prove sleep apnea.

If you have mild sleep apnea, then you can make some lifestyle changes to reduce symptoms of sleep apnea.

How to prevent sleep apnea?

Lifestyle changes to reduce sleep apnea symptoms:

  1. Even if you lose a little bit of weight, it can help to open up the throat and recover from symptoms of apnea.
  2. You have to avoid sleeping pills and alcohol prior to bed time as they relax your throat muscles and obstruct your breathing.
  3. You should also give up smoking as it can increase throat inflammation.
  4. You have to stick to the regular sleep schedule as good quality of sleep decreases apnea occurrences.

Your physician can also recommend special devices or pillows or oral appliances. These devices help to keep the airway open while sleeping. If these methods do not work out, your physician recommends continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to breathe easily.

Even surgical treatments are also available to take away the tissue and expand the airway. Some people may require combination of treatments to cure their sleep apnea.

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