Concerns for Patients with Sleep Apnea

what is sleep apnea
The world has ushered in a chaotic period with the novel coronavirus, also known as the COVID-19 outbreak. While medical experts and scientists are learning and researching this extremely infectious pathogen, reports show different statistics.

For some, mostly younger and healthy individuals, the effects are mild or asymptotic, but for those older with other chronic conditions, the illness is quite lethal. Given that obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that affects sleep aspiration, it’s imperative to highlight potential coronavirus concerns for patients with sleep apnea.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that mostly manifests during sleep, and over time, it can have grave health implications. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea experience shortage and stopping of the breathing cycling. It shows by patients stopping and starting to breathe again, causing snoring, lack of breath, and gasping for air.

It’s hard to notice it medically, but patients can recognize it if they find themselves snoring or someone else tells them that they do. Patients perceive it by noticing they feel weak and tired even after a full sleep cycle.

As a medical study published in 2017 shows, the most common type of sleeping apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when throat muscles relax.

Other types of sleep apnea include central sleep apnea, which manifests when the brain doesn’t send and receive the necessary signals for muscles in the throat that help control breathing.

Lastly, the complex sleep apnea syndrome, which is the previous two conditions, joined up. It is also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which requires the use of proper ventilation machines to soothe sleeping. Left untreated, Sleep Apnea

Does the Coronavirus Pose Risk for Patients with Sleep Apnea?

As mentioned above, doctors are still learning about the conditions that cause the coronavirus symptoms to worsen. The most common factors that see the patients’ states deteriorating and eventually passing away are health conditions and age.

However, sleep aspiration can also be the cause of this virus to get worse. Sleep apnea patients whose state is severe enough to use a CPAP may also be the risk group, mainly because sleep apnea is related to other conditions.

Different chronic conditions

The coronavirus mortality rate rises in patients with underlying chronic health conditions. In most cases, that’s diabetes, a heart condition, lung conditions, kidney disease, and other respiratory issues.

Given that sleep apnea has a relationship with other conditions like cardiovascular problems and diabetes, it’s essential to appreciate that there are possible coronavirus concerns for patients with sleep apnea.


sleep apnea treatment and Coronavirus
The statistics have shown that patients older than 65 years have been more susceptible to coronavirus-caused pneumonia that proved to be lethal to them. Scientists believe that age susceptibility is due to the overall weakening immune system, resulting in deadly pneumonia and the urgency of using mechanical ventilation.

One of the factors that causes sleep apnea is age, as patients, older than 65 have been experiencing it more frequently. As a result of this connection, it’s natural to conclude that there are age-related risks for sleep apnea patients when it comes to the lethality of the novel coronavirus.


As the risk factors state, individuals who are obese are more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. That is a result of fat deposits making the neck appear thicker and blocking the upper respiratory ways, not to mention the obesity-related features like kidney disease and diabetes. All these are also more prone to coronavirus consequences. As the World Obesity Federation states, obese people, as a result of their lifestyle, can also develop severe symptoms of the COVID-19 and end up needing mechanical ventilation, decreasing the likelihood of successful recovery.

With that in mind, there’s a clear connection between patients who use CPAP machines as a result of sleep apnea as well as COVID-19 consequences.

Sleep Aspiration

Another connection between the coronavirus and sleep apnea would be in improper sleep aspiration. It starts by attacking the cells located under the vocal cords and throat and makes its way towards the lungs. It happens thanks to inhaled air, but it can also be contracted through fluids in the nose and saliva. Additionally, contact by hand with the eyes, nose, or mouth can also transfer the virus.

Aspiration commonly occurs when we’re asleep. There are aspirated fluids that can potentially carry the bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens to the lungs, leading to pneumonia, especially if they are older or have damaged lungs. Damaged lungs can be a result of asthma, alcohol, smoking, and others.

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