OSA can take a toll on the body and lead to a number of negative physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects, said Dr HP Bharathi


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep-related breathing disorder that causes people to repeatedly start and stop breathing.

It occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

Can it be lethal?

“Obstructive sleep apnea is closely linked to different life-threatening conditions. It may cause or worsen chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure. OSA can also lead to sudden cardiac death.

Even though a person with sleep apnea does not necessarily pass away while sleeping, the risk of death significantly increases if the condition is left untreated.

People who accumulate fat in the neck, tongue and upper belly are especially vulnerable to getting sleep apnea.

This weight reduces the diameter of the throat and pushes against the lungs, contributing to airway collapse during sleep,” said Dr HP Bharathi, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute.

Precautions and treatment

In some cases, sleep apnea can be managed with lifestyle changes.

Exercise and good dietIt is important to fill the plate with heart-healthy options like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and get plenty of exercise.



Adopting these healthy habits can help people maintain a healthy weight, which is important because obesity can increase the risk for sleep apnea.

Avoid smoking and alcohol: Smoking and alcohol may increase upper airway inflammation and reduce function.

Don’t sleep on the back: Sleeping on the back can increase the likelihood that the tongue and soft palate will fall back into the airway, causing airway obstruction, snoring, and sleep apnea.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): A CPAP machine happens to be the most common treatment, which is a device that can be used at home.

It gently forces pressurised air through a mask worn over the nose and mouth (or just the nose) into your airway to keep it open while a person sleeps at night. If breathing machines don’t work, a doctor may suggest an oral device as well.

Is it neglected and overlooked?

As the primary symptoms of sleep apnea — the pauses in breathing and the gasping and snoring that can accompany them — occur during sleep, many people with sleep apnea may not even realize it’s happening.

OSA can take a toll on the body and lead to a number of negative physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects. (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

It’s a big public challenge. OSA can take a toll on the body and lead to a number of negative physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral effects.

Because sleep apnea prevents people from having normal, restorative sleep, it can lead to problems, such as:

Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
Attention problems
Inability to concentrate
Problems with memory

Such complaints are ignored assuming it to be a manifestation of improper sleep hygiene rather than the real culprit being OSA.

Healthy lifestyle to be adopt to avoid OSA

Lose weight
Obesity is a major risk factor for sleep apnea. A person can lower the number of apnea episodes they have each night by maintaining a healthy weight.

Stop consuming alcohol and sedative medicines
Alcohol and sedative medicines are nervous system depressants. They cause problems with how the brain works. They also increase the frequency and number of sleep apnea episodes that occur each night.

smoking and alcohol may increase upper airay inflammation and reduce function

Stop smoking
Nicotine can worsen sleep apnea.

Exercise can help improve sleep apnea even without weight loss. A person should talk to their doctor before starting a program.

Sleep on your side
Apnea is often worse when a person sleeps on their back or stomach. Side sleeping may help keep the airway open.


The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.


      – Dr HP Bharathi, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Jindal Naturecure Institute.