Sleep apnea is quite common among adults, and if you are dealing with this sleep disorder you probably want to know all you can about it. It is essential that you know what it is and the risk factors too so that you can seek medical attention and in time get rid of this problem. 

What is sleep apnea and what are the symptoms?

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which you experience one or more pauses or reduction in breathing while sleeping. Medically apnea is defined as a span of time during which the breathing is reduced or is completely stopped. If breathing stops for 10 seconds or more it is known as apnea. Usually the breathing resumes with a choking sound or a snort. This chronic condition disrupts your sleep and with your sleep quality drastically reduced, you will suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness. Besides the obvious complaints of feeling always tired, chronic sleep deprivation has other side effects as well.

How is sleep apnea detected?

Since it occurs when people are sleeping, the condition often goes undetected. Usually bed partners or family members notice the symptoms during the stages of sleep. Most of us experience breaks in breathing, and that is actually quite normal. However, when the breathing stops for a prolonged time or in greater frequency, it becomes a matter of concern. 

What causes sleep apnea and what are the types of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is categorized into three types, namely obstructive, central, and mixed. 

•Obstructive apnea is caused by blockage in the air passage like an enlarged tonsil. 

•The respiratory center of the brain is responsible for controlling the breathing process. When there is any problem in its operation, central apnea occurs. Usually in infants this type is more commonly observed as the brain is not fully matured.

•Mixed apnea is a combination of obstructive and central apnea. It is also observed more in infants and children who have less control on their breathing.

Sleep Apnea: Risk Factors

Anyone can experience sleep this condition. However, there are certain conditions that put you at more risk of it. It is essential that you recognize these risk factors and try to minimize them to ensure good health.

Your Weight

People who are overweight are at higher risks of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Fat deposits around the upper airway may create obstructions in breathing. 

Suffering from Hypertension

People who suffer from high blood pressure commonly get sleep apnea.

Your Gender as a Factor

It has been found out that males have 50% higher chance of having sleep apnea. For women the risk of developing sleep apnea increases after menopause.

Smoking Habit

Smoking exposes you to greater risks of sleep apnea. Actually, smoking increases the risk almost three times as compared to people who do not smoke. 

Neck Circumference

Oddly enough, people with thick neck are often found to have sleep apnea. It has been seen that people with neck circumference of over 17 inches have an increased chance of getting sleep apnea.

Sitting for a Long Time at Work or at Home

People who spend most of the daytime sitting are found to have sleep apnea. The body fluid tends to shift towards the upper body blocking the airways and causing apnea.


If you think you or a loved one has sleep apnea, you can do something about it. It is vital to treat sleep apnea as it can disrupt your normal life. For treatment of sleep apnea, consult your physician or a sleep doctor specialist who commonly treats obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.