Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a seri­ous dis­or­der in which breath­ing repeat­ed­ly stops and starts while you sleep. There are three main types of sleep apnea-obstruc­tive sleep apnea (OSA), cen­tral sleep apnea (CSA) and com­plex sleep apnea. With OSA, the mus­cles in your upper air­way relax while you’re sleep­ing which caus­es your air­ways to become blocked. With CSA, your brain does­n’t send prop­er sig­nals to the mus­cles that con­trol breath­ing. Com­plex sleep apnea occurs when some­one has both OSA and CSA. As a result of all these con­di­tions, your breath­ing may pause for 10 sec­onds or longer while sleep­ing until your reflex­es wake you and ini­ti­ate your breath­ing to restart. This process con­tin­ues mul­ti­ple times through­out the night. 

The preva­lence of sleep apnea increas­es with age and you are at greater risk for devel­op­ment of this con­di­tion if you are male, have a large neck cir­cum­fer­ence, a high body mass index (BMI), larg­er ton­sils or are a smok­er. Symp­toms of sleep apnea include, dry mouth, extreme fatigue, gasp­ing for breath while sleep­ing, irri­tabil­i­ty, loud snor­ing and morn­ing headaches.

Your doc­tor may make an eval­u­a­tion based on your symp­toms and sleep his­to­ry. Diag­no­sis of sleep apnea usu­al­ly involves par­tic­i­pat­ing in a diag­nos­tic sleep test. This eval­u­a­tion observes your breath­ing and oth­er body func­tions dur­ing sleep. Due to the repet­i­tive inter­rup­tion in sleep and drop in oxy­gen lev­els, untreat­ed sleep apnea can cause seri­ous health problems.