Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea or sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes a person's breathing to stop temporarily several times while sleeping. This condition can be marked by snoring during sleep and still feeling sleepy after a long sleep .

The term apnea in sleep apnea means stopping breathing or stopping breathing. People with sleep apnea can stop breathing for about 10 seconds hundreds of times during sleep.

This condition is very dangerous because it can cause the body to lack oxygen and cause complaints of shortness of breath at night . In women, this condition can sometimes cause snoring during pregnancy .

Causes of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is caused by various factors. Here are several types of sleep apnea according to their causes:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
    Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat are too relaxed. This condition makes the airways narrow or close when you inhale, for example because you swallow your tongue .
  • Central sleep apnea
    Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain can't properly send signals to the muscles that control breathing. This causes the sufferer to be unable to breathe for some time.
  • Complex sleep apnea
    This type of sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea .

Risk factors for sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can happen to anyone, even children. However, a person will be more at risk of developing sleep apnea if they have the following risk factors:

  • Male gender
  • Age 40 and over
  • Have tonsils and a large tongue or small jaws
  • There is an obstruction in the nose due to a bent nasal bone
  • Have allergies or sinus problems
  • Consuming alcoholic beverages or alcohol addiction
  • Taking sleeping pills
  • Smoking

Symptoms Sleep Apnea

In many cases, sufferers do not realize that they have sleep apnea symptoms . These symptoms are actually realized by people who sleep in the room with sufferers.

Some of the common symptoms that appear when people with sleep apnea are sleeping are:

  • Snoring loudly
  • Stop breathing several times while sleeping
  • Shortness of breath trying to catch your breath or shortness of breath while sleeping
  • Waking up from sleep feeling suffocated or coughing at night
  • Difficulty sleeping ( insomnia )

In addition to symptoms that appear during sleep, people with sleep apnea can also feel complaints after waking up from sleep, including:

  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Headache when you just wake up
  • Feeling very sleepy during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating, studying, or remembering things
  • Experiencing mood swings and irritability
  • Experiencing decreased libido

When to see a doctor

Consult a doctor if you experience the above symptoms or if other people say that you experience these. Also check with your doctor if you feel any of the above symptoms after waking up from sleep or feel that the quality of your day has decreased.

Diagnosis Sleep Apnea

In the early stages of the examination, the doctor will ask about the symptoms experienced by the patient, both the patient himself and his family, especially those who sleep with the patient. Next, the doctor will carry out a physical examination, such as weighing, and checking the condition of the nose and throat.

After that, the doctor will ask the patient to undergo a sleep pattern examination called a sleep study . In this examination, the doctor will monitor the patient's breathing patterns and body functions while sleeping, both at home and in a special clinic at the hospital.

Tests performed to detect sleep apnea are:

  • Sleep test at home
    In this examination, the patient will bring home a special device that can record and measure heart rate, blood oxygen levels, breath flow, and breathing patterns during sleep.
  • Polysomnography ( nocturnal polysomnography )
    In this examination, the doctor will use equipment that monitors heart, lung, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while the patient is sleeping.

If the test results show that the patient has obstructive sleep apnea , the doctor will refer the patient to an ENT doctor to remove blockages in the nose and throat. Meanwhile, in patients suffering from central sleep apnea , the doctor will give a referral to a neurologist .

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the patient's condition and the severity of the sleep apnea they are experiencing. Mild sleep apnea can be treated independently , for example by losing weight, stopping smoking , stopping consuming alcoholic beverages, and changing your sleeping position to your side or stomach.

If the condition is severe enough, sleep apnea needs medical treatment, including by:

Special therapy

If lifestyle changes do not work to overcome the symptoms of sleep apnea or if the symptoms that appear are severe enough, the patient is recommended to undergo therapy with the following devices:

  • CPAP ( continuous positive airway pressure ) This tool is used to blow air into the respiratory tract through a mask that covers the nose and mouth of sleep apnea sufferers while sleeping. The goal of CPAP therapy is to prevent the throat from closing and relieve symptoms that occur, such as snoring.
  • BPAP ( bilevel positive airway pressure ) This tool works by increasing the air pressure when the patient inhales and lowering the air pressure when the patient exhales . That way, it will be easier for the patient to breathe. This tool can also keep the amount of oxygen in the patient's body sufficient.
  • MAD ( andibular advancement device ) This tool is designed to hold the jaw and tongue to prevent narrowing of the airways that causes someone to snore . However, MAD is not recommended for people with severe sleep apnea.


If lifestyle changes and therapy with the above tools still don't improve sleep apnea symptoms within 3 months, the next step to consider is surgery.

Surgery to treat sleep apnea will be adjusted to the main causes of sleep apnea in patients, including:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty
    In this procedure, the doctor will remove some of the tissue at the back of the mouth and the top of the throat, as well as remove the tonsils and adenoid glands , to prevent the patient from snoring while sleeping.
  • Radiofrequency ablation
    This procedure is used to remove some of the tissue at the back of the mouth and back of the throat using special energy waves.
  • Jaw repositioning
    surgery In jaw surgery , the lower jawbone will be positioned more forward than the facial bones. The goal is to expand the space behind the tongue and palate.
  • Nerve stimulation device implant
    In this surgery, the doctor will implant a special device to stimulate the nerves that control tongue movement. During sleep, this tool will work in rhythm with the patient's breath so that the tongue will move forward and open the airway when the patient inhales.
  • Tracheostomy Tracheostomy is performed to create a new airway in very severe sleep apnea conditions. The doctor will make an incision in the patient's neck, then insert a metal or plastic tube into it.

Complications of Sleep Apnea

If not treated immediately, sleep apnea can increase the risk of sufferers experiencing complications, in the form of:

  • Prolonged headaches
  • High blood pressure ( hypertension )
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Syndrome metabolic
  • Liver organ dysfunction
  • Depression

Apart from the complications above, sleep apnea can also interfere with the sufferer's daily activities and reduce performance at work or study. Sleep apnea can also increase the risk of an accident while driving due to drowsiness and decreased alertness. The effect of sleep disturbance  is certainly not good for health.

Prevention of Sleep Apnea

The way to prevent sleep apnea is to control the risk factors. One effort that can be done is to stop smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages. If you have difficulty quitting smoking or suffer from alcohol addiction , consult a doctor to get therapy.

If you suffer from  obesity or even morbid obesity , consult a nutritionist to undergo a weight loss program so that the risk of getting sleep apnea is lower. The nutritionist will adjust your diet according to your condition and set safe weight loss targets.

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