To compensate for this, the in-breath automatically becomes more
powerful, causing the walls of the nasopharynx to be sucked in. The
walls are unable to resist, as their muscles are partly
relaxed during sleep. The result is that the walls are sucked together
so that the air intake is too low (hypopnea)
or completely blocked
which deprives the lungs of air and the oxygen concentration
in the blood stars to fall.
reduced concentration causes the heart to send an alarm signal to the
brain, which is subsequently woken up and all the muscles
in the body are
stimulated, including the nasopharynx muscles that are then opened and
let air through again. The apnea or hypopnea is followed by a brief
waking period that the sleeper very rarely remembers.
soon as the blood has reached normal oxygen levels again, the alarm in
the heart is shut off and the brain allows the body to fall back to
sleep. The result of obstructive sleep apnea is a much worsened quality
does obstructive sleep apnea occur?
Sleep apnea, as well as snoring, is often generally caused by
inner dimensions in the cranium. These constrictions can
hard to describe, as we cannot see them with the naked eye. It can be a
matter of a short or narrow upper or lower jaw or a combination of
causes can be soft tissue that takes up more space than usual, for
example nasal polyps, throat polyps, enlarged tonsils, large tongue,
and tongue polyps.
imbalances in the nasal septum and swollen
mucous membranes associated with allergies can be a contributing
colds mucous membranes are swollen, which can trigger or aggravate
snoring. While not all forms of snoring are related to sleep
hypopnea, it can be one of the major signs that a person is suffering
There are many other factors that can cause sleep apnea and/or worsen
the condition. Being
overweight can add extra pressure on the throat,
actually causing sleep apnea or making it much more severe. Alcohol,
medication, and sedatives
are also known to make the apneas worse
and more frequent.
are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include irregular snoring
periods of more than 10 seconds. When watching a person with sleep
apnea, you will see the person fighting for air with violent breathing
motions that do not get air in. Not until the apnea is stopped by
disrupted sleep will the air be allowed through and cause a loud
The quiet periods of the
apnea can be 10 to
50 seconds in length. The individual, as mentioned before,
only remembers a fraction of the episodes; often it is the spouse that
is most bothered by them, and many end up having to sleep in separate
not being able to remember having sleep apnea episodes, people who
suffer from the disorder wake up feeling tired, no matter how long they
slept for. However, there is no
connection between the degree of apnea
and the degree of tiredness.
A patient with sleep apnea will often sleep very restlessly, sweat
excessively during sleep, and will often need to wake up to urinate one
or several times a night. During the day patients complain of lethargy,
morning headaches, lack of energy and irritability.
be especially strong in monotonous situations; sufferers fall asleep at
meetings, in the cinema, on long drives and in social situations.
are the risks related to obstructive sleep apnea?
The effect of bad sleep on a persons’ health is immense. This is one of
the reasons that untreated sleep apnea can be so damaging to overall
wellbeing. Furthermore, untreated sleep apnea puts a great strain on the
heart and cardiovascular health and increases the risk of
pressure. Long term the condition can cause increased risk of strokes
and blood clots in the heart. The risks of these will be lowered with
efficient treatment. Another risk connected with sleep apnea is
i.e. during work or while driving.
Examined for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
It is advisable to see the doctor if you snore and do not feel rested
in the morning or if you get tired during the day after getting
is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?
When trying to diagnose sleep apnea it is recommended that a CRM
(Cardio Respiratory Monitoring) test is carried out. A CRM
airflow through the upper airways, breathing motion of the thoracic and
abdominal, oxygen saturation in the blood and position.
necessary to spend the night at a sleep
clinic to fully diagnose apnea
because the sleep will need to be monitored by a professional. In this
test, the number of apneas and hypopnea are counted and as well
as the average length of time that each episode occurs.
Furthermore, it is possible to clarify in what position they occur,
i.e. on the back, on the side, and the level of oxygen deprivation,
thus determining how severe the apnea is.
are the treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea?
There are various treatments available, CPAP
being the most common.
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and is the most
efficient treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP machine is a small
(practically noiseless) that blows a small positive pressure
in such a
way that the airways are kept open, normalizing the breathing
snoring. Natural breathing will make the quality of sleep
much better, and patients will experience waking up feeling rested and
to What is Sleep Apnea
to the Snoring