Sleep Related Breathing Disorders | Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Treatment

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

Sleep related breathing disorders are a group of disorders that affect our breathing while we are asleep, and are characterized by disruptions of normal breathing patterns that occur only during sleep.

The major problem affecting the health and well being of many infants, children and adolescents is the disordered breathing during sleep.

Sleep related breathing disorders constitute a subset of the broad group of sleep disorders that include many other disorders such as insomnia, hypersomnia, narcolepsy, parasomnias etc.

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders – Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep related breathing disorders refer to conditions such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and habitual snoring in which the upper airway becomes blocked while sleeping.

The most serious sleep-related breathing disorder, Obstructive sleep apnea, occurs when tissues in the back of the mouth and throat block the airway for at least 10 seconds, resulting in an lack of ability to breathe.

The brain senses that the body is suffocating from a lack of oxygen and arouses the person to a light sleep, which causes the throat muscles to contract and allows a small passage of air that is be associated with a gasping sound.

The person falls back into deeper sleep until the muscles relax again, jamming the upper airway and repeating the cycle of arousal. Arousals may happen hundreds of times each night but the patient is never fully awakened, and thus unaware of the loud snoring, choking, and gasping for air that occurs while sleeping.

Habitual Snoring

Habitual snoring, a state that is sometimes an originator to OSA, is caused due to the shaking of the uvula. Because habitual snoring can be connected with other health problems, the state should be discussed with a medical professional.

Typically, it is the bed partner who is most aware of a patient’s snoring, since the loud snoring noise can prevent or interrupt sleep.

Daytime Symptoms

Since the consequences of sleep disorders are similar if not identical to many other abnormalities, daytime symptoms are frequently misinterpreted. Consequences can range from sudden unexpected death at night to school failure and learning disability.

Careful and systematic evaluation of a child with suspected sleep disordered breathing is essential for appropriate diagnosis and management.

Respiratory Pause

Respiratory pauses include obstructive apnea, central apnea, mixed apnea, obstructive expiratory apnea, post-sigh apnea, central hypoventilation, obstructive hypoventilation and periodic breathing.

Health Problems Of Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

A significant impact of the sleep related breathing disorders could be found on an individual’s health. The lack of restful sleep associated with these disorders often results in excessive daytime sleepiness, making people less creative and irritable, and causing memory difficulties.

Drowsiness associated with OSA significantly increases the possibility of automobile accidents.

Sleep apnea may increase the risk for a number of diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke. Over the long term, patients with sleep apnea are twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack within ten years than those with out it.

A snorer or OSA sufferer’s sleep, as well as the sleep of a bed partner can get disrupted with the loud snoring and irregular breathing interruptions caused by sleep related breathing disorders.

Witnessing an apnea can be a frightening experience because the obstructive sleep apnea patient appears to be suffocating. Frequently, it is a sleep deprived bed partner who convinces the sufferer to seek medical help.

Victims Of Sleep Related Breathing Disorders

While sleep-related breathing disorders are commonly associated with obesity and men, they affect a wide cross-section of the population. OSA usually worsens with age because the throat tissues become floppier and weight gain is more common.

Sleep-related breathing disorders are even more common among the elderly persons, with 60% showing trouble during sleep.

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Diagnosis

Typically, a doctor will recommend that the patient undergo an overnight sleep study to measure blood oxygen saturation and determine how much oxygen is inhaled during sleep. Generally, the level of oxygen in one’s blood indicates the severity of OSA.

Sleep Related Breathing Disorders Treatment


For OSA patients, therapy includes the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), in which a mask is fitted over the patient’s nose and air is forcibly delivered by a pump.

CPAP is effectual, but many patients find the mask uncomfortable, claustrophobic, or embarrassing. CPAP patients often suffer from side effects related to forced air delivery including nasal congestion; headaches, sore eyes, and abdominal bloating, and about half of CPAP patients discontinue long-term treatment.

Other Treatment Options

Apart from CPAP, there are surgical methods such as Somnoplasty, UPPP and Tracheotomy etc., which are useful for sleep related breathing disorders treatment.

Performed under local anesthesia, these procedures are used for sleep apnea treatment and habitual snoring treatment by shrinking soft tissue in the upper airway including the base of tongue. Most people find these treatments to be comfortable.


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