What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is very common and potentially life-threatening medical disorder that prevents airflow during sleep.

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What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is very common and potentially life-threatening medical disorder that prevents airflow during sleep. More than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea, and many are not receiving treatment. Sleep apnea occurs when tissue in the back of the throat collapses and blocks the airway, reducing the amount of oxygen delivered to all of your organs including your heart and brain. People with sleep apnea may snore loudly and stop breathing for short periods of time. When the blood-oxygen level drops low enough, the body momentarily wakes up. It can happen so fast that you may not be aware you woke up. This can happen hundreds of times a night, and you may wake up in the morning feeling unrefreshed. In addition to snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea can cause memory loss, morning headaches, irritability, depression, decreased sex drive and impaired concentration. Sleep apnea patients have a much higher risk of stroke and heart problems, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Sleep apnea patients are also more likely to be involved in an accident at the workplace or while driving.

Untreated Sleep Apnea Increases Risk For:

  • excessive daytime sleepiness

  • driving and work-related accidents

  • high blood pressure

  • heart disease

  • stroke

  • diabetes

  • obesity

  • depression

  • memory loss

  • morning headaches

  • irritability

  • decreased sex drive

  • impaired concentration

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea patients are often older, obese and have thick necks, but men and women of any age or body type can have sleep apnea. The sleep disorder progressively worsens with age and weight gain. Listed below are some common signs of sleep apnea:

  • Unintentionally falling asleep during the day

  • General daytime sleepiness

  • Unrefreshed sleep

  • Fatigue

  • Insomnia

  • Waking from sleep with a choking sound or gasping for breath

  • Snoring

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