Causes of Sleep Apnea, Symptoms and Treatment

Sleep apnea affects the quality of life negatively. It makes a significant effect on our work and school performance. Because of waking up tired in the morning, this problem brings about feeling sleepiness throughout the day. The consequences of sleep apnea are not limited to these. In this article, we will discuss the causes of sleep apnea.

What are the causes of sleep apnea and how does it affect our health?

Sleep apnea has an important place among sleep disorders. It can bring vital health problems as it leaves the brain deprived of oxygen. Sleep apnea is shown as a common cause behind the heart attacks and strokes at night. The most recent researches show that the frequency of sleep apnea is 4-5% and this means sleep apnea is common almost as much as diabetes and asthma.

This problem both affects adults and children. Sleep apnea, which stops breathing during sleep, is also among the causes of sudden deaths. Generally, men suffer more from sleep apnea than women. The ratio of female/male sleep apnea is 1/2. Women come to face this problem more often after menopause occurs. Although it can be seen at any age, it increases after the 40s ”. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea generally have problems such as smoking, alcohol, and obesity.


What causes sleep apnea?

No single cause can be shown as a factor and there is more than one reason behind sleep apnea.

Preparatory factors of sleep apnea are as follow;

Fatness and obesity:  In obese individuals, the inner diameter of the upper airways gets narrow. This causes the airway to close easily during sleep breathing.

Closure of the airway during breathing of diaphragm at the end of breathing: This is called sleep apnea. In order to end this, the individual must have arousal brain awakening or the individual must awaken.

Other important preparatory factors are smoking, excessive alcohol use. Those with these problems are more likely to experience sleep apnea and breathing problems.

What symptoms does sleep apnea occur?

The most important symptom of sleep apnea is the presence of snoring at night. This factor is the most common symptom of sleep apnea however not everyone who suffers sleep apnea has loud snoring at night. One may have sleep apnea, If he/she stops breathing during sleep, has morning headaches regularly, awakes with a dry mouth and irritability, and has an attention problem.


How is sleep apnea treated and what is its success rate?

There are many options for the treatment of sleep apnea, depending on the severity of the disease and the patient’s choice for available treatments.

As a first step, some facilitating measures are recommended in order to treat sleep apnea. Losing excess weights, stopping use of smoking and alcohol are some of the methods that are recommended first.

If sleep apnea syndrome is mild, upper respiratory tract surgery is recommended in these cases. If the patient does not want surgery, intraoral tools may be used to expand respiratory passage.

In moderate and severe cases, bariatric surgery may be an important treatment option if there is morbid obesity. In these cases, non-invasive mechanical ventilation methods (CPAP / BPAP) are used to prevent breathing stops by keeping the airways open during sleep. This method of treatment is very successful if the respiratory passage is open.


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