What is Sleep Apnea?

What is it Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious and potentially life-threatening sleep disorder in which blockage of the airway during sleep occurs. The muscles in the upper airway collapse, which interferes with proper breathing. The most noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. Those suffering from this condition are usually unaware they have it. In fact, it is often the spouse or loved one who first notices sleep apnea.

During sleep apnea episodes, air is prevented from entering the lungs. This results in the falling of oxygen level in the bloodstream and the organs receive less oxygen. The heart may even try to compensate by pumping faster and raising blood pressure. With repeated obstructive sleep apnea episodes, the supply of oxygen to the organs becomes progressively depleted. So instead of restful rejuvenation during sleep, the heart and organs actually become more stressed.

Normal Sleep

2 Normal Sleep - Simple Sleep Services

Open airway, Tongue relaxed (falling slightly back).


3 Snoring - Simple Sleep Services

Partially blocked airway. Constricted airway causes vibration.


4 Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Simple Sleep Services

Fully blocked airway (life threatening).

What Happens if Sleep Apnea is not Treated?

The fatigue and restlessness associated with sleep apnea can severely affect a person’s quality of life. It often makes concentration difficult, decreases productivity at work and increases the risk of accidents and errors in daily activities. Obstructive sleep apnea is connected to a number of other serious health conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Chronic daytime fatigue
  • Erectile or sexual dysfunction

Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea can help control these conditions. Not treating sleep apnea can aggravate the symptoms of those other conditions—which in some cases can be life-threatening.

How Do I Know if I Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Common signs of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping or choking during sleep (often noticed first by spouse or partner)
  • Restless sleep
  • Chronic daytime sleepiness

Many people with sleep apnea also suffer with one or more serious health condition such as:

  • Diabetes
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Depression that is either aggravated or caused by sleep apnea.

Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be very successful and life changing.

Treatment Options

The goal of sleep apnea treatments is to maintain an open airway and increase blood oxygen levels during sleep. This not only relieves sleep apnea symptoms such as snoring, but can be an effective way to help control related conditions.

Different treatment options are available such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Changing your sleep position
  • Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) which is a very effective form of therapy that utilizes positive airway pressure delivered through a nasal and / or oral mask to hold the airway open during sleep.
  • Custom built oral device which is designed to position the jaw where it prevents airway blockage.
  • Surgery: Several surgeries are being performed, they aim to decreasing the airway blockage.

General recommendations to consider:

  • Weight loss to an ideal body weight, avoiding alcohol, sedatives and hypnotics prior to bedtime, and avoiding sleeping on your back.

Benefits of Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep apnea treatment significantly improves patient quality of life, lowers serious associated health risks and reduces overall medical expenses.

Treating sleep apnea can help control your:

  • Daytime Sleepiness: reduce your fatigue and associated lifestyle and safety consequences. With increased energy you are able to get back to activities you enjoy, be more productive at work and even lose weight.
  • Diabetes: Research has shown treatment for diabetic patients with sleep apnea improves average blood sugar levels.
  • Heart Conditions: Research shows treating sleep apnea can help reduce high blood pressure, which may prevent stroke and heart attack.
  • Weight Management: Treating sleep apnea can help regulate appetite hormones, helping patients curb weight gain and improving the success of weight loss efforts.
  • Depression: Sleep apnea treatments can significantly improve symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and lack of concentration.
  • Erectile or Sexual Dysfunction: Sleep apnea treatments are associated with improved ED and sexual dysfunction symptoms and quality of sexual relationships.

There are several advanced treatment options available today. Dr. Akkad will discuss options and help you choose the best sleep apnea treatment for you

Have a question? Contact us today!​