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Did you know that you can die of sleep apnea?

March 18, 2018 10:33 IST

Here's all you need to know about sleep apnea, its types and symptoms. 


Photograph: Kind courtesy DieterRobbins/

It is common knowledge that human beings need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep -- and not just to feel good or to do away with those under-eye circles but also for overall health.

Sound sleep benefits the heart, weight, mind, and body.

It helps in repairing damaged cells and the immune system, handling daily wear and tear, and recharging our system.

Unhealthy food habits, lack of exercise, and irregular and varying working styles are all conditions that can hamper sleep.

'Apart from this, there are those who suffer from what are called sleep disorders.

'It is alarming to note that not many people take these disorders seriously and are, therefore, also prone to other health conditions such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes.

'One such common sleep disorder is sleep apnea,' said Dr M Udaya Kumar Maiya, Medical Director, Portea Medical.

Sleep Apnea, its types, and symptoms

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which a person's breathing starts and stops repeatedly while they are asleep.

It is further divided into three types:

Some of the symptoms common to all the above forms include loud snoring (most prominent sign), episodes of breathing cessation during sleep, waking up abruptly with shortness of breath, waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat, morning headache, insomnia, daytime sleepiness or grogginess, attention issues, and irritability.

Risk factors and complications

Although anyone irrespective of age can get sleep apnea, there are certain factors that increase the likelihood of acquiring this condition.

Some of these include sex (it is more common in males due to their anatomy), excess weight, family history of the condition, narrowed airway or an anatomical defect, menopause, pregnancy, smoking and drinking, posture, and certain medications.

It is important to consult a specialist if any of the characteristic symptoms of sleep apnea are present or if you fall under any of the risk factors for the condition.

In the absence of timely diagnosis and treatment, sleep apnea can also lead to death.

This is because a person's heartbeat becomes irregular during an apneic episode causing a rise in blood pressure.

In people who are overweight, it increases the chances of developing diabetes and high cholesterol later in life. Besides this, sleep apnea can also cause day-time accidents, due to grogginess.

Diagnosis and management

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with the help of a sleep study called nocturnal polysomnography, done in an overnight sleep laboratory.

This process records brain waves, eye and leg movements, oxygen levels, airflow, and heart rhythm during sleep.

At times, a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine is recommended, which consists of an air blower that continuously blows air through the nose or mouth.

The air pressure helps in preventing collapse of the upper airway tissues during sleep. Other options include certain oral devices and surgery.

Certain lifestyle changes can help avoid the onset of this condition or provide relief from existing symptoms.

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder and can affect the health and quality of life of an individual, which makes it imperative to get diagnosed and treated on time. 

Source: ANI