More than 18 million American adults have sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly
interrupted during sleep. The "apnea" in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts
at least ten seconds. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in
the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breath. Another
form of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to
properly control breathing during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is far more common than
central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea, or simply sleep apnea, can cause fragmented sleep and low blood
oxygen levels. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen
starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease and mood and memory problems. Sleep
apnea also increases the risk of automobile crashes.
Ask your bed partner if he or she notices that you snore heavily, choke, gasp, or stop
breathing during sleep and STOP! First, take a moment to ask yourself the
4 questions that will determine if you may have sleep apnea. The next step is, see your
doctor, or, call us to schedule your sleep assessment.