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Apnoea or apnea (AP-ne-ah) simply is the suspension of breathing. Voluntarily doing this is called holding one's breath.


Apnoea can be voluntarily achieved, drug-induced, mechanically induced (for example, by strangulation or choking), or it can occur as a consequence of neurological disease or trauma.



  • Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnoea, is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnoea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats may have obstructive sleep apnoea.


  • Central sleep apnoea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control centre.Central sleep apnoea can affect anyone. However, it's more common in people who have certain medical conditions or use certain medicines.



The most common signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnoeas include:


  • Waking up with a very sore or dry throat

  • Loud snoring

  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation

  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day

  • Sleepiness while driving

  • Morning headaches

  • Restless sleep

  • Forgetfulness, mood changes, and a decreased interest in sex

  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia

Risk factors

Risk factors for sleep apnoea include:

  • Being male.

  • Being overweight.

  • Being over age 40.

  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women).

  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone.

  • Having a family history of sleep apnoea.

  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD.


Sleep apnoea is treated with lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery. Medicines typically aren't used to treat the condition.


The goals of treating sleep apnoea are to:

  • Restore regular breathing during sleep

  • Relieve symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness


Treatment may improve other medical problems linked to sleep apnoea, such as high blood pressure. Treatment also can reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.



Culled from Staywellworld blog post dated July 07, 2017.

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