Obstructive sleep apnea

By Medically reviewed by hellodoktor


What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea briefly pauses your breathing while you sleep. It is a serious sleep disorder. There are 3 types of sleep apnea and obstructive sleep disorder (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. It can happen up to 30 times an hour in a night. You might not even remember or notice this happen. As a result, the sleep quality is not enough to make you energetic and productive the next days.

How common is obstructive sleep apnea?

This health condition is extremely common. It commonly affects more in men than in women. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

The common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are

  • Loud snoring in a long term almost every night;
  • Choking, snorting, or gasping while asleep;
  • Stop breathing suddenly;
  • Fatigue, sleepy during daytime;
  • Dry mouth and sore throat next morning;
  • Hypertension.

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes obstructive sleep apnea?

This type of apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax and block the airway. When partial or complete obstructions occurs, the blood oxygen levels can be lower due to the breathing cessation (10-20 seconds). Lack of oxygen, your brain will panic and rouse the body to breathing again.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for obstructive sleep apnea?

There are many risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea, such as:

  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids in children.
  • OSA is more common in middle age and in elderly.
  • In general, men are twice as likely as women to have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Underlying health condition: diabetes, hypertension, asthma.
  • Structural deformities: narrowed airway.
  • Bad habits: using alcohol, smoking.
  • Family history.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

OSA is diagnosed through a series of exams and tests. Your doctor will ask about family history and how the patient is performing in daily activities. The next is physical exam to check the abnormalities of the back of the throat. Your doctor may also measure your neck and waist circumference and check your blood pressure. Polysomnography and home sleep apnea testing are used to detect obstructive sleep apnea.

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

  • The first line of treatment for OSA is always lifestyle changes integral with below options.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. This is the frontline of treatment. CPAP is advisable for moderate to severe symptoms as the most effective treatment.
  • Variable positive airway pressure (VPAP). This treatment is more common in patients with serious respiratory conditions.
  • Nasal EPAP. This is a device commonly used in mild cases of OSA.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage obstructive sleep apnea?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with obstructive sleep apnea:

  • Lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Drink alcohol moderately, if at all, and don’t drink several hours before bedtime.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Use a nasal decongestant or allergy medications.
  • Don’t sleep on your back.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: October 9, 2016 | Last Modified: September 13, 2019

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