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Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound.
Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. When your breathing pauses or becomes shallow, you’ll often move out of deep sleep and into light sleep.
As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Most people who have sleep apnea don't know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
Untreated sleep apnea can:
- increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes.
- Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
- Make arrhythmias (ah-RITH-me-ahs), or irregular heartbeats, more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Book your sleep study now!
Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that requires long-term management. Lifestyle changes and breathing devices can successfully treat sleep apnea in many people.
Positive airway pressure machines, used with a variety of breathing masks, are the most widely used treatment for moderate and severe sleep apnea. They have been endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The mask, worn snugly over the nose, or sometimes nose and mouth, during sleep, supplies pressurized air that flows continuously or intermittently into the sleeper's throat. The increased air pressure prevents the sleeper's airway from collapsing. The pressurized air is supplied through a flexible tube from one of several types of machines: CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), BiPAP (bilevel positive airway pressure), VPAP (variable positive airway pressure), and so on. Studies of the effect of PAP therapy show that OSA patients who consistently use their machines feel better and, as a result of the reduction of apnea and hypopnea episodes during sleep, encounter fewer complications of the disease.
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