Dr. Arun Kumar Dhanuka
MBBS, MD, DM (Neurology)
1799/1, Maharaj Nagar, Ludhiana.
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Excessive Snoring is not Healthy

Sleep Apnea

Everyone has trouble sleeping sometimes. Busy schedules, stress, caffeine, or even the wrong food can cause sleep disturbance. But sometimes sleeping problems can be more serious. Sleep apnea is one of the common causes of sleep disturbance and also the most easily treatable. Sleep apnea affects about 2% of population.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is the occurrence of periods of time when breathing stops during sleep. These Periods can be as brief as ten seconds, but are sometimes much longer. The apnea leads to lack of the oxygen that body needs and also awakens momentarily- just before patient starts breathing normally again. This can occur hundreds of times throughout the night and can disrupt the sleep.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

1 .Daytime sleepiness
2. Loud, irregular snoring
3. Morning headaches
4. Irritability or moodiness
5. Memory loss
6. Usually the patient is obeses

What are the causes of sleep apnea?

There are the different types of sleep apnea, each with a different cause. Obstructive Sleep apnea is caused by blockage of your upper airway during sleep. Loud snoring is common in this type of disorder and patient often gasps as he awakens momentarily and the obstruction is cleared. Obesity is thought to cause the syndrome by the fat in the neck squashing the upper airway.

Apnea occurs if the upper airway at back of the throat is sucked closed.

  • When the patient breathes in during sleep.
  • When the patient is awake the tendency for the airway to be sucked closed is overcome by the action of the opening muscles of the upper airway, but the sleep includes hypotonic and the upper airway narrows.

Central sleep Apnea occurs when the muscles that are used in breathing do not receive the signal from the brain to breathe. Central Sleep Apnea is the least common type in adults.

Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of central and obstructive types.

Millions of people suffer from sleep apnea. It affects mostly men who have a lengthy history of snoring and tend to be over weight.

What to do if sleep Apnea is suspected?

If your patient has some of the symptoms mentioned above you should refer the patient for sleep study (Polysomnography).

After Examination of the patient a sleep study may be performed if indicated. The Sleep study is a test performed at night by trained technicians, where patient’s brain waves, breathing and other vital signs are mentioned during sleep. A thorough clinical, neurological examination is also required.

What can be done to treat Sleep Apnea?

Once a diagnosis of sleep apnea is established, a CPAP device may be prescribed.

CPAP stands for “continuous positive Airway pressure”.

This form of treatment is the most effective and widely used means of treating sleep apnea.

This system gently delivers air into the airway through a specially designed mask. This creates enough pressure to keep the airway open and produce immediate relief from sleep apnea. Surgical treatment is rarely required.


Sleep apnea is not a benign condition. It can lead to several complications and shortened life span if left untreated. Some of the problems include: excessive daytime sleeping disturbing routine life, depression, memory loss, mood disorders, more obesity, exacerbation of hypertension, increased risk for stroke and myocardial infarction, worsening of pulmonary problems, sexual dysfunction etc.


Whether he / she falls asleep each day when not in bed?

Whether he / she snore loudly?

Always get sleep study (polysomnography) when clinically suspected.

This is just simple & general information. For all your personal advice / query consult your doctor.