Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder which is characterized mainly by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing can last for a few seconds to several minutes which happens for many times at night. The airway repeatedly becomes blocked which limits the amount of air that reaches your lungs. When this happens, one may snore loudly or make choking noises while trying to breathe. As a result the brain and body becomes deprived of oxygen and causes one to wake up. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.

There are mainly three forms of sleep apnea: obstructive (OSA), central (CSA), and a combination of the two called mixed. OSA is the most common form. Risk factors for OSA include being overweight, allergies, and enlarged tonsils. In OSA, breathing is interrupted by a blockage of airflow, while in CSA breathing stops due to a lack of effort to breathe.

Treatment normally includes lifestyle changes, wearing mouthpieces and breathing devices, and surgery. Breathing devices include the use of a CPAP machine. Without proper treatment sleep apnea may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, and irregular heartbeat, obesity, and motor vehicle collisions.


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