Sleep apnea syndrome, what is it?

Sleep apnea syndrome is manifested by frequent pauses in breathing during sleep, causes a number of unpleasant symptoms and can provoke serious complications.

If you suspect sleep apnea, you should definitely contact a somnologist!

Why do you stop breathing in your sleep?

Sleep apnea syndrome occurs in people of all ages, most often in patients older than 40-50 years. The disease occurs in two main forms: obstructive and central. In the vast majority of cases, sleep apnea is obstructive (stopping breathing due to snoring).

The development of obstructive sleep apnea is based on the periodic collapse (overlapping of the lumen) of the upper respiratory tract, due to which respiratory arrests occur. The fact is that patients with sleep apnea have initial disorders and features due to which their pharynx narrows. During sleep, when the muscles of the body relax, the narrowing of the pharynx is aggravated. Its walls begin to touch, vibrate when inhaling and exhaling, creating the sound of snoring. Occasionally, the walls completely collapse, interrupting breathing.

With central sleep apnea, there are also pauses in breathing, but without snoring.

During the night, a person can have 400-500 such pauses lasting from 10 seconds to a minute or more.

Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

The most common causes of obstructive sleep apnea are:

  • Overweight. With excess weight, fat accumulates between the structures of the neck and squeezes the pharynx, narrowing its lumen.
  • Age (apnea is more common in the elderly due to general muscle weakness).
  • Floor. Sleep apnea syndrome usually occurs in men, which is associated with the distribution of adipose tissue and the anatomical structure of the pharynx.
  • use of alcohol, sleeping pills and narcotic drugs that cause weakness of the muscles of the nose and oropharynx.
  • Menopause. Hormonal changes cause excessive relaxation of the muscles of the respiratory tract and the entire body.
  • Reduced lower jaw. With this structural feature, the anterior -posterior size of the lumen of the pharynx decreases.
  • Excess tissue of the soft palate, enlarged palatine tonsils. They directly block breathing.
  • Smoking. Sleep apnea is more common in smokers than in non-smokers.

Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms

Sleep apnea is interrupted, restless sleep. When breathing stops and the level of oxygen in the blood drops critically, alarm signals begin to enter the nervous system. They cause an incomplete awakening of the brain: a person does not wake up completely, but the nervous system takes control of the muscles and restores normal breathing. As sleep deepens, the cycle repeats again. As a result, the whole night of the patient consists of a series of asthma attacks and micro -awakenings . The structure of sleep is disturbed, it becomes intermittent, does not give a feeling of cheerfulness.

Sleep apnea syndrome provokes morning headaches, weakness, irritability, sleepiness during the day, increased fatigue, decreased concentration, anxiety, or even depression. Uncontrolled spontaneous falling asleep throughout the day causes accidents at work or while driving.

There are other symptoms of sleep apnea: nocturnal heart rhythm disturbances, a steady increase in blood pressure, sweating, frequent urination at night.

Gradually, the apnea syndrome causes severe arterial hypertension with frequent hypertensive crises, accelerated development of coronary disease. It increases the risk of stroke and myocardial infarction, especially at night and in the morning.

Watch this video: a patient talks about the symptoms he experienced before he started treatment for sleep apnea. Do you have similar symptoms?

Dangerous facts about sleep apnea

On this page you can take the sleep apnea test. If, according to the results, you find that you have a high probability of this disease, we recommend that you contact a somnologist, because snoring with pauses in breathing during sleep is extremely dangerous for health.


  • With a severe degree of apnea, a person may not breathe in total for up to 4-5 hours per night;
  • Respiratory arrests cause a slowdown in the activity of the heart up to its complete stop for 3-10 seconds;
  • Cases of sudden death in sleep in many cases are caused precisely by the fact that the person had sleep apnea syndrome;
  • Since the disease affects different organ systems, patients often visit urologists, therapists, cardiologists, neurologists, psychologists for years without effect, although in fact all problems are due to the presence of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a good reason to see a doctor immediately!

Treatment of sleep apnea syndrome

Its main task is to ensure free breathing of a person in a dream. The main treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea is CPAP therapy.

This method has been helping patients with obstructive sleep apnea for over 30 years. The treatment is carried out using a CPAP machine – a device that works like a compressor and supplies air to the tube and mask attached to it under low pressure.

CPAP therapy is done at night. Before going to bed, the patient puts on a mask on his face, turns on the device and falls asleep. The air pressure is not so great as to disturb the sleeper, but enough to keep the throat from collapsing and prevent snoring and respiratory arrest.

Of course, CPAP therapy takes some getting used to. However, most patients who are indicated for CPAP therapy successfully adapt to it and continue to treat sleep apnea at home. It has undeniable advantages.

First, it is the most effective treatment for sleep apnea. Secondly, already the first night of use improves the patient’s well-being: snoring and pauses in breathing disappear, daytime sleepiness decreases. With continued use, other symptoms gradually disappear.

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