Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder. However, many people suffering from this problem are left undiagnosed. Approximately 1 in 5 adults has mild symptoms, while 1 in 15 has moderate to severe symptoms.

One of the key philosophies behind Hallmark Physiotherapy and its programs is the mission of providing lifelong solutions for chronic conditions. Our team has developed effective alternative methods for solving conditions such as sleep apnea through years of research and experimentation. The skills we teach foster our clients’ abilities to manage and solve disorders that would otherwise have a great impact on their quality of life.

There are two main types of sleep apnea disorder, obstructive sleep apnea, and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common, where the upper airway gets wholly or partially blocked during sleep.

Central sleep apnea is the cessation of respiratory drive, resulting in a lack of respiratory movements. The airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe due to instability in the respiratory control center. This means there is no effort to breathe for short periods of time. Individuals suffering from central sleep apnea will awaken with shortness of breath or have difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep.

There is also a possibility of mixed sleep apnea, where both conditions occur simultaneously. Obstructive sleep apnea accounts for 84%, central sleep apnea for 0.4%, and 15% of cases are mixed.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder if not treated as it causes breathing to stop and repeatedly start during sleep. It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep. An airway blockage means the brain and the body may not get sufficient oxygen to function. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

Many people may not think of snoring as a sign of something potentially serious, and not everyone who snores has obstructive sleep apnea. Loud snoring that is punctuated by periods of silence is a clear sign to get checked. With obstructive sleep apnea, snoring is usually loudest when sleeping on the back, and it quietens down when sleeping on the side.

People suffering from sleep apnea awaken from their sleep with shortness of breath that quickly corrects after one or two breaths. This is where choking or gasping sounds occur. This pattern may repeat itself 5 to 30 times or more in an hour throughout the night, preventing the person from resting peacefully and leading to the person waking up tired and feeling sleepy throughout the day.

Some of the most prominent signs happen during sleep. The best way to determine if you are exhibiting sleep apnea-related symptoms is to ask your family, roommate, or partner to observe you while you sleep.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

• Excessive daytime sleepiness

• Loud snoring

• Observed episodes of stopped breathing during sleep

• Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping for air or choking

• Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat

• Morning headache

• Difficulty concentrating during the day

• Daytime drowsiness

• Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability

• High blood pressure

• Night sweats

• Decreased libido

• Daytime fatigue

• Frequent urination at night

• Insomnia

• Memory loss

What causes Sleep Apnea Disorder?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax too much, which prevents normal breathing. These muscles support structures, including the back of the roof of the mouth (soft palate), the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils and the tongue.

When the muscles relax, the airway narrows or closes, and breathing may be inadequate for more than 10 seconds. This will cause the oxygen level in the blood to decrease and increase carbon dioxide levels, causing the body and the brain to function abnormally.

People with sleep apnea may not be aware that their sleep is regularly interrupted; they might even think they sleep well. Therefore, most people with this condition are left undiagnosed.

Factors that will put the person at a higher risk:

  1. Being Overweight Fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing. Medical conditions that are associated with obesity can cause sleep apnea.
  2. Menopause those hormones decline in menopause, and the risk for sleep-disordered breathing increases.
  3. A Large Neck A large neck has more soft tissue that can block the airway during sleep. The risk for sleep apnea is higher for men with a neck size of 17 inches or more, and a neck size of 16 inches or more for women.
  4. High Blood Pressure/Hypertension Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system.
  5. Narrow Airways When tonsils or adenoids become enlarged, the airway will become narrow which increases the risk of sleep apnea.
  6. Smoking increases the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
  7. Diabetes Sleep apnea alters glucose metabolism, promotes insulin resistance, and is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes.
  8. Genetics Sleep apnea is a heritable condition. This means that there is a higher risk of sleep apnea if a family member has it. Inherited traits that increase the risk for sleep apnea include obesity and physical features such as a recessed jaw.
  9. Asthma Sleep apnea can cause increased inflammation in the airways which can trigger irritation and constriction of the small airways.

Effects of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects your whole body and your lifestyle. Here are some of the ways that sleep apnea can have an impact on the way you live:

Daytime fatigue and sleepiness

The repeated awakenings associated with obstructive sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. This daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability may make a person have difficulty concentrating and find themselves falling asleep at work or when driving. This will increase the risk of work-related accidents. Students may have poor performance in school and commonly have attention or behavioural problems.

Cardiovascular problems

The drop in blood oxygen levels during sleep increases blood pressure and strains the cardiovascular system. Many people with sleep apnea develop hypertension, which may increase the risk of heart disease. More severe cases of sleep apnea might lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, or stroke, as sleep apnea stresses the heart. Sleep apnea also increases the risk of abnormal heart rhythms, which can lower blood pressure.

Increased Risk of Dementia

Sleep apnea repeatedly interrupts breathing during sleep and is tied to the changes in the brain structure that are also observed in early dementia. Sleep apnea causes a lack of oxygen supply to the brain. The low blood oxygen levels during sleep were tied to the reduced thickness of the brain’s right and left temporal lobes. These brain structures are vital for memory and are known to change in dementia.

Musculoskeletal Problems

Sleep apnea leads to calcium elimination which reduces bone density. The lack and deprivation of oxygen can harm many body systems, including the skeletal system, which may lead to weakened bones and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Depression and Anxiety

Sleep apnea can lead to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Sleep apnea symptoms, such as sleep fragmentation and oxygen desaturation, might be the risk factors for subsequent mood disorders.

Relationship Tension

Loud snoring will disrupt others when sleeping, which leads to sleep-deprived partners. This can cause tension in relationships and can even result in your partner opting to sleep in another room.


The following are the treatments that are currently practiced:

  • Weight loss (if overweight)
  • Aerobic exercises
  • Consume less or no alcohol
  • Quite smoking
  • Sleep at 30 degrees elevation
  • Consume more Vitamin E
  • Consume more Vitamin C
  • Invest in a humidifier

As discussed above, sleep apnea disorder can worsen existing medical conditions and influence the onset of new diseases. Clinicians and patients need to recognize and deal with sleep apnea’s early signs and symptoms. Signs of sleep apnea in women may be more subtle than in men and don’t always conform to the list of symptoms. Women with sleep apnea have a really higher risk of being undiagnosed.

See a doctor or a specialist if you suspect you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is highly prevalent and eminently treatable, and many patients are left undiagnosed and are left to suffer from the adverse effects of the condition. It is an under-recognized and under-diagnosed medical condition, with many negative consequences on patients’ health and society as a whole. Several modalities exist for treating sleep apnea. However, conservative approaches, such as weight loss and alcohol and tobacco cessation, are strongly encouraged to tackle sleep apnea. With increased awareness, both the medical community and society can begin to address this condition and help relieve the negative sequelae that result from it.

Solving Sleep Apnea with Hallmark Physiotherapy

One of the key philosophies behind Hallmark Physiotherapy and its programs is the mission of providing lifelong solutions for chronic conditions. Our team has developed effective alternative methods for solving conditions such as sleep apnea through years of research and experimentation. The skills we teach foster our clients’ abilities to manage and solve disorders that would otherwise have a great impact on their quality of life.

Our program involves strengthening the facial, throat, and neck muscles, with the end goal of independent living without needing continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines. We also focus on making fundamental lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet and avoiding risk-increasing activities such as the consumption of alcohol or cigarettes. Ready for risk-free, natural, and effective solutions? Get in touch with us today for a consultation session!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *