Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops for brief periods of time while a person is sleeping. These episodes of interrupted breathing last anywhere from 10-30 seconds at a time, and may occur up to 20-30 times per hour. Over the course of a single night’s sleep, this can mean up to 400 episodes of interrupted breathing.
Every time you stop breathing, you interfere with the normal patterns of deep sleep. You may not even realize it, but you are awakening regularly in order to resume breathing. The quality of sleep that you get is greatly impaired. The next day, your level of alertness and your ability to pay attention may be seriously affected.
There are several different kinds of sleep apnea. These include:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
This is caused by a temporary airway obstruction. This blockage may be partial or complete. Obstructive sleep apnea can occur when the tissues of your throat relax too much and cave in on each other. If you’re overweight, your excess tissue might be putting too much pressure on your airway, causing it to collapse.
You may have a
, large tonsils, or an elongated soft palate and uvula that obstruct your airway while you are sleeping.
For children, the most common reason for obstructive sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and adenoids.
Central Sleep Apnea
This occurs when an area of the brain (called the lower brain stem) neglects to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Conditions that cause problems with the lower brain stem include certain types of
, and various degenerative diseases affecting the brain and central nervous system.
Mixed Sleep Apnea
This form includes aspects of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute estimates that 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, with more than half of these people being overweight.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care
provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a
substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the
advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to
starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a