What is Sleep Apnea?

Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night? Does your sleep partner say you snore? You could be one of more 18 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. How can you tell if a person has stopped breathing? They snore!

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This blockage of the airway is called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). When a person is snoring their tongue as fallen backward, blocking their upper airway and they are no longer getting oxygen. Their body senses that loss of oxygen and will inject adrenaline into their system to wake them up with a jolt. The person snoring often doesn’t remember this unless their oxygen drops extremely low and they fully wake up gasping for breath. This constant waking and lack of deep sleep results in chronic drowsiness.

Central Sleep Apnea

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is the other main type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the brain temporarily fails to signal the muscles that are responsible for breathing to do their job. This type of sleep apnea is much less common and is responsible for around 20% of sleep apnea cases.
Mixed or Complex Sleep Apnea
Some people have a combination of obstructive and central sleep apneas, which is known as Mixed or Complex Sleep Apnea. Mixed sleep apnea may begin as obstructive sleep apnea and then later present symptoms or characteristics of central sleep apnea.

There are a number of health risks associated with sleep apnea, in addition to the effects that constant drowsiness can have your quality of life.

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that should not go untreated. Contact us if you think that you or a loved one may be suffering from sleep apnea.