What Is Sleep Apnea?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016, 1:23 pm

Sleep apnea is a common condition in which you stop breathing while sleeping. The pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes, and sufferers may stop breathing 30 times or more per hour.

In most patients, sleep apnea is an ongoing condition that disrupts sleep, commonly causing the sufferer to shift from deep sleep into lighter sleep.

Sleep apnea causes a poor quality of sleep, often causing patients to feel drowsy during the day. In fact, sleep apnea is a leading

what is sleep apnea

cause of excessive daytime tiredness.

How Sleep Apnea is Diagnosed

Many cases of sleep apnea go undiagnosed simply because the patient is unaware that there is a problem. Sleep apnea cannot be detected during a routine office visit, and there is no blood test for sleep apnea.

In order to diagnose sleep apnea, patients must participate in a sleep study in which his or her sleep is carefully monitored by a medical professional.

Types of Sleep Apnea

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA . In patients with this condition, the airway becomes blocked or collapses during sleep, resulting in breathing pauses or shallow breathing. Air that manages to squeeze past the blockage can cause loud snoring.

Central sleep apnea is another, less common, type of sleep apnea. This condition occurs as the result of the area of the brain that controls breathing not sending correct signals to the breathing muscles. Patients with central sleep apnea make no effort to breathe for brief periods during sleep. Snoring typically does not occur in cases of central sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risks

When left untreated, sleep apnea can…

  • Increase the risk of or worsen heart failure
  • Increase the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity and diabetes
  • Increase the risk of irregular heartbeats
  • Lead to an increased risk of driving or work-related accidents

How Sleep Apnea is Treated

Because sleep apnea is a chronic condition, long-term management is generally necessary. CPAP machines, mouthpieces, surgery and lifestyle changes are all commonly prescribed. Your doctor will determine the best course of action depending upon your symptoms, the severity of the condition and other factors.

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Category: Sleep Apnea, Snoring