What is sleep apnea? Causes, symptoms, and treatments for the sleep disorder [Representational image]Creative Commons.

Sleep apnea is a disorder that can leave a person feeling tired, despite having a full night's sleep. Until now, the treatment for sleep apnea consisted of therapies and surgeries. Now sleep doctors at Minnesota, USA, have said that a new implant can help in treating the disorder.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts, according to Mayo Clinic.

Types of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea: This is the most common form of sleep apnea that occurs when throat muscles relax.

Central sleep apnea: In this type, the brain doesn't send the proper signal to breathing muscles.

Complex sleep apnea: In this type, the person suffers from both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

The symptoms of central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea are very similar. Therefore, it makes it very difficult to differentiate between the two. The most common signs and symptoms for both include loud snoring; abrupt awakening which is accompanied by shortness of breath, insomnia, morning headache, attention problems, awakening with a sore throat or dry mouth and irritability.

Causes of sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the throat muscles relax. When it does, the airway narrows or closes when the person breathes. Therefore, the person cannot adequately breath which might lower the level of oxygen in the blood. A person suffering from it might make a snorting, choking or gasping sound.

Central sleep apnea happens when the brain doesn't transmit signals to the breathing muscles properly. It means that the person doesn't breathe for a short period of time. The person might wake up with shortness of breath or have a problem with getting some sleep or staying asleep. However, this form of sleep apnea is not very common.


People who are suffering or have suffered from a stroke, diabetes and congestive heart failure are more prone to sleep apnea.


Mild cases of the disorder do not require treatment, but for severe ones, proper medical treatment is required. In moderate to severe cases, a number of other treatments are available which include therapies. In some cases, doctors advise patients to use certain devices to open up a blocked airway. In some cases, surgery may be necessary.

Source: Mayo Clinic.