Sleep Apnea

Apr 13, 2023

Table of contents

30 Second Summary

  • Sleep apnea is a respiratory arrest during sleep.
  • There are two types: central and obstructive.
  • Snoring can cause symptoms such as daytime fatigue, impaired concentration and memory problems.
  • Treatment includes the use of a CPAP device, lifestyle changes and surgical intervention.

What is sleep apnea?

We can briefly define sleep apnea, one of the most common sleep problems, as respiratory arrest during sleep. Patients with sleep apnea may suffocate for a few seconds during sleep. During these respiratory arrests, the amount of oxygen in the blood drops and the brain is stimulated. The brain also recognizes that respiratory functions have stopped and wakes up the body to breathe again. For this reason, sleep apnea patients wake up many times during their sleep.

Although patients' sleep is frequently interrupted, a significant proportion of patients do not remember this process when they wake up. However, if this condition persists for a long time, patients experience chronic fatigue and weakness. For this reason, if people who sleep adequately and regularly wake up tired in the morning, the possibility of sleep apnea should be considered.

Sleep apnea is divided into three types. Among the types of sleep apnea, there are central (central), obstructive (obstructive) and mixed types. The brains of patients with central sleep apnea do not give the command to breathe. As a result, breathing stops.

In obstructive sleep apnea, patients have a physical problem that causes respiratory arrest. These problems include swollen tonsils, weight gain and sagging soft palate. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in men. It is more common in women, especially in the postmenopausal period.

In addition, sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, have high blood pressure, and have nose and throat disorders. In addition, all diseases that start in the nose and extend into the mouth cause sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

The hallmark symptom of sleep apnea is that patients stop breathing during sleep. However, many patients do not realize that they have this problem during sleep. Apart from this, other symptoms that may be seen in patients are as follows.

  • Heart rhythm disorder
  • High blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Snoring
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of concentration
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Daytime sleep

Causes of sleep apnea

The causes of sleep apnea are not fully understood. However, it can be caused by irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, heart attack, daytime sleepiness and stroke. Although the causes of sleep apnea are not fully known, the factors that can cause sleep apnea are as follows.

  • Enlarged adenoid
  • Being overweight
  • Substance abuse
  • Medication use
  • Upper respiratory diseases
  • Other sleep disorders

Sleep apnea diagnosis methods

Patients with long-term sleep problems should consult a specialist as soon as possible. In medical examinations, the physician first takes the patient's medical history. This is followed by a physical examination.

If sleep apnea is suspected, a polysomnography test is performed. The polysomnography test is also known as a sleep test. In this test, which is performed in sleep laboratories, electrodes are placed on the patients' bodies. With these electrodes, patients' sleep data are monitored. This test is not only used to prove sleep apnea but also to determine the type of sleep apnea.

Sleep tests can be performed not only in laboratories but also at home if the physician deems it appropriate. Electrodes placed on patients' bodies one hour before they go to sleep can receive data for 6-7 hours. For the diagnosis, 4 hours of sleep is enough.

In addition to apnea, the sleep test is also used to diagnose hypoapnea, which is the slowing of breathing during sleep. In order for the sleep test to be positive, patients must stop breathing more than five times in one hour.

Sleep apnea treatment methods

Sleep apnea, one of the serious sleep disorders, must be treated. The treatment depends on the depth and type of apnea and the characteristics of the person's respiratory tract. The methods used in the treatment of sleep apnea are as follows.


CRAP is one of the leading treatment methods used in sleep apnea. CRAP, a type of air machine, is used in combination with an air mask. The air pressure of this mask, which should be used overnight, is determined by the doctor.

In CRAP treatment, compressed air prevents respiratory arrest. In this way, patients' airways are open throughout the night and they do not experience sleep apnea. Patients have a better quality sleep because their sleep is regulated.

Changing lifestyle

When patients with sleep apnea change their lifestyles positively, they experience less or no sleep apnea. Lifestyle changes primarily include quitting smoking and drinking alcohol. In addition, patients should exercise regularly, avoid eating heavy meals before sleep and sleep on their side. In addition, maintaining the ideal weight of these patients will also prevent sleep apnea.

Tissue excision

In this operation, called UPPP, surgeons remove a piece of the soft tissues of the patients' small tongue and palate. This expands the airways of the patients. This method is also used in the treatment of patients with snoring. While the UPPP method, which offers a permanent solution for patients with snoring, is applied, tissues such as adenoids and tonsils are also removed. Since it is less effective than CRAP treatment, it is not a treatment method that can be recommended for all patients with obstructive sleep apnea.

Tissue reduction

In this method, patients are given radio frequency to shrink the tissues in the throat area. This is why it is called radiofrequency ablation.

Chin correction operation

In this operation, the lower jaw bones of the patients are relocated in front of the other bones of the face. A more prominent chin also allows more space at the back of the tongue.

Nerve stimulation

In this method, a stimulator is surgically placed on the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the movements of the tongue. This stimulus ensures that the tongue is in a position that prevents the patient from closing the airways.


Tracheostomy is performed in extreme cases of sleep apnea. If the patient has not responded to other treatments or has a painful sleep apnea problem, this method is applied as a last solution. In the tracheostomy technique, a hole is made in the patient's throat and a plastic or metal tube is inserted through this hole. This allows patients to breathe directly through their throat.

Life for sleep apnea patients

The most prominent feature of sleep apnea patients is snoring. These snores can sometimes be loud enough for neighbors to hear. In addition, in moments of respiratory arrest, snoring stops and is followed by roar-like sighs.

In addition, excessive sweating is observed in the head, neck and chest areas of patients during night sleep. Patients with sleep apnea are more likely to urinate at night. In addition, sleep apnea patients feel tired and exhausted during the day. For this reason, there is a decrease in work efficiency and concentration. In addition, sleep apnea patients have decreased sexual desire and power.

In addition to these problems, sleep apnea patients experience irresistible sleep attacks during the day. They are also more tense and irritable during the day. Sleep apnea patients who also have problems with weight loss must lose weight in order to overcome this problem.

In order to treat sleep apnea, which is especially seen in overweight and thick-necked people, patients need to change their lifestyle as well as medical treatments. The first place among these is to maintain the ideal weight.

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