Sleep apnea severity

February 15, 2022by Oliver0

Sleep apnea severity is based on symptoms while conscious and symptoms while asleep. The severity of symptoms is not measured by how many times it happens, rather the severity depends on the possible damage done to organs before symptoms are noticed.

Most people who have sleep apnea do not notice any symptoms until they begin to experience organ damage which could be life-threatening. While severe symptoms are possible, many people have them but do not realize because the damage happens slowly over time.

What is sleep apnea?

obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder. It can cause sleep disruption and difficulty falling asleep. Sleep apnea causes breathing pauses, lowering oxygen levels. Central and obstructive sleep apneas exist. This article will focus on the most common type of sleeping disorder. Not knowing they have this sleeping disorder is common. Sleep apnea has numerous symptoms. It causes sleepiness during the day and night. Obesity or a deviated septum are common causes. In severe cases, sleep apnea patients’ airways can be blocked. If you have been diagnosed with this sleep disorder, you must seek treatment immediately.

What are the risk factors for sleep apnea?

The following factors enhance the likelihood of developing this type of sleep apnea:

  1. Obesity raises the risk of sleep apnea. Upper airway fat deposits can restrict airflow.
  2. Neck size: Smaller airways with larger necks
  3. Bronchospasm: Narrow throats may be hereditary. Tonsils and adenoids can enlarge and obstruct the airway in children.
  4. Age: Sleep apnea affects seniors more than youth.
  5. Genetics: Sleep apnea runs in families.
  6. Sedatives or tranquilizers. These medications may exacerbate OSA by relaxing the throat muscles.
  7. Smoking: Obstructive sleep apnea affects smokers three times more than non-smokers. Smoking has been linked to upper airway inflammation and fluid retention.
  8. Nasal styes: Most people with obstructive sleep apnea have difficulty breathing through their nose due to anatomical issues or allergies.

Who gets sleep apnea?

moderate obstructive sleep apnea

Sleep apnea can happen to anyone, but if you have certain health conditions, including obesity, diabetes or high blood pressure, you are more likely than others to develop it.

You experience sleep apnea when your throat muscles intermittently relax and close while sleeping. When this happens, the airway becomes blocked and breathing stops for up to a minute or so before normal breathing resumes. You may snore loudly during these pauses in breathing.

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Since sleeping is an essential part of life that everyone needs to do at least once a day, sleeping disorders are always serious. Sleep apnea has been linked with other medical problems such as high blood pressure and stroke which can be life-threatening over time.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to serious personal and professional issues. It can be a frequent cause of sleeping problems, fatigue, headaches, and irritability during the day.

There are 3 types of sleep apnea

continuous positive airway pressure

What all types of sleep apnea have in common

According to the Sleep Foundation, people who have sleep apnea endure intermittent bouts of pauses in breathing; the word “apnea” refers to breathing pauses that last 10 seconds or longer. Those who suffer from sleep apnea have these episodes on a regular basis, leading them to partially awaken numerous times during the night as they try to take a deep breath. Individuals who suffer from severe sleep apnea may experience these partial arousals from sleep hundreds of times per night.

In fact, because these awakenings are often short, the individual suffering from sleep apnea may not even be aware that they are suffering from sleep interruption at all. However, the episodes can have a detrimental effect on the sleep cycle, preventing the individual suffering from sleep apnea from reaching the deep, peaceful stages of the night. And it is for this reason that persons who suffer from sleep apnea might experience severe weariness and sleepiness the following day, despite having had what they believed to be a full night’s sleep.

Central sleep apnea happens

sleep disordered breathing

Compared to obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is less common. Diagnosis and treatment can also be more difficult. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the proper messages to the muscles that control breathing, unlike obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a mechanical problem that blocks the airway.

While central and obstructive sleep apneas share many symptoms, such as pauses in breathing, frequent night awakenings, and extreme sleepiness during the day, central sleep apnea frequently affects people who have underlying illnesses, such as a brain infection or other conditions that affect the brainstem, according to the American Sleep Apnea Association.

Severe obesity, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, and chronic heart failure are some of the diseases associated with central sleep apnea. Opioids and benzodiazepines, for example, can contribute to central sleep apnea.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Doctors recently identified a third type of sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea, combining obstructive and central sleep apnea. Patients with this type of sleep apnea initially appear to have obstructive sleep apnea, but CPAP does not adequately address their symptoms.

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Complex sleep apnea syndrome patients still have breathing issues even after the airway obstruction is treated, indicating that something other than collapsing throat muscles is causing the apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type. According to the AASM, OSA occurs when the throat muscles in the back of the throat relax too much during sleep to allow normal breathing. up arrow

So, when the throat muscles collapse too much, the soft tissues in the back of the throat can fall back into the throat and partially or completely block the normal flow of air in your airway. Snoring occurs when the airway is partially blocked, which is common in OSA.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

undiagnosed sleep apnea

The following tests can be used to diagnose sleep apnea:

  1. Patients spend the night in a special room with electrodes attached to monitor their breathing and brain activity. The electrodes track: > Oxygen levels – measured with a finger clip or an earlobe sensor > Muscle tone – measured by wires hooked up to leg and arm muscles > Breathing effort – measured with belts around the chest and stomach This test is usually done in a hospital, clinic, or facility.
  2. Night oximetry Patients inhale through a tube with sensors that measure blood oxygen levels. A sensor on each hand’s fingertip or earlobe continuously monitors oxygen levels while sleeping.
  3. Oximetry polysomnography Similar to polysomnography, but also measures breathing effort and blood oxygen concentration.
  4. Sleep Latency Tests (MSLT). Even though they are not tired at night, patients report feeling sleepy during the day and falling asleep unintentionally for short periods of time. During this test, patients take naps throughout the day and night to track their sleep patterns. They may take four or more naps in two days, after which their sleep-wake cycle is compared to a healthy person’s. This test determines how often and for how long patients stop breathing while sleeping.

Management and treatment

sleep study

CPAP (continuous positive air (CPAP). People with moderate to severe sleep apnea may benefit from wearing a mask that delivers air pressure while they sleep. The CPAP (SEE-pap) air pressure is just enough to keep your upper airway passages open, preventing apnea and snoring.

Although CPAP is the most common and reliable treatment for sleep apnea, some people dislike it. With practice, most people learn to adjust the mask’s straps for a comfortable and secure fit.

You may need to try several masks before finding one that feels right. Use the CPAP machine even if you have issues. Consult your doctor about ways to improve your comfort.

Contact your doctor if you still snore or start snoring again after treatment. Adjust the CPAP machine’s pressure settings if you gain or lose weight.

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If using a CPAP machine is still a problem, you may be able to use an airway pressure device that automatically adjusts while you sleep (auto-CPAP). There are also bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) units. Inhale more and exhale less with these.

Oral devices. Another option is to use an oral appliance to keep your throat open. Oral appliances may be easier to use than CPAP. The forward-facing jaw of some snoring and mild sleep apnea mouthpieces can help open the throat.

What are the effects of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea causes severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue, and irritability due to frequent awakenings.

You may have trouble concentrating and fall asleep at work, watching TV, or even driving. Sleep apnea patients are more prone to car and workplace accidents.

You might be irritable, moody, or depressed. Sleep apnea in children and adolescents can cause academic or behavioral issues.

Hypertension or heart problems. Oxygen depletion causes high blood pressure and strains the cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of hypertension (hypertension).

Heart attacks, strokes, and abnormal heartbeats like atrial fibrillation may all be increased by obstructive sleep apnea. Multiple episodes of low blood oxygen (hypoxia or hypoxemia) can cause sudden death in people with heart disease.

Diabetes 2 – Sleep apnea increases insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes risk.

Diabetes – High blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol, high blood sugar, and an increased waist circumference are all symptoms of hypertension.


How serious is severe sleep apnea?

Cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes are all increased by severe obstructive sleep apnea. Heart arrhythmias (lower blood pressure) are linked to obstructive sleep apnea. Repeated arrhythmias can cause sudden death if there is underlying heart disease.

How is the severity of sleep apnea measured?

The severity of OSA is determined by an index – Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) or Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI), if PSG is preformed, or Respiratory Event Index (REI) if OCST is performed. AHI = number of Apneas+Hypopneas/total sleep time RDI = number of Apneas+Hypopneas +RERAs/total sleep time REI = number of Apneas+Hypopneas/monitoring time AHI or REI

What are the 3 types of sleep apnea?

Central sleep apnea Complex sleep apnea syndrome Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

How long can you live with severe sleep apnea?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says moderate sleep apnea increases mortality risk by 17%. Untreated severe sleep apnea reduces life expectancy by roughly half.


  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Treatment & Management: Approach Considerations, Nasal CPAP Therapy, BiPAP Therapy (
  2. Sleep apnea – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
  3. The Dangers of Uncontrolled Sleep Apnea | Johns Hopkins Medicine
  4. Sleep Apnea: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Treatments (
  5. Sleep Apnea: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments –


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