What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea occurs when you
regularly stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer during sleep. It can be mild,
moderate, or severe, depending on the number of times an hour that you stop
breathing (apnea) or that airflow to your lungs is reduced (hypopnea). Apnea
episodes may occur from 5 to 50 times an hour.
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
A blockage or
narrowing of the airways in your nose, mouth, or throat generally causes
obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This usually occurs when the throat muscles and
tongue relax during sleep and partially or completely block the airway.
Sleep apnea can also occur if you have bone deformities or enlarged
tissues in your nose, mouth, or throat. For example, you may have enlarged
tonsils. During the day when you are awake and
standing up, this may not cause problems. But when you lie down at night, the
tonsils can press down on your airway, narrowing it and causing sleep
Other factors that make sleep apnea more likely include
using certain medicines or alcohol before bed, sleeping on your back, and being
Why should I have a sleep study?
A sleep study can
give you a positive diagnosis of sleep apnea. This is important because if
sleep apnea is not diagnosed and treated, it can interfere with your quality of
life. If you have sleep apnea, you may be at risk for
excessive daytime sleepiness and
complications such as high blood pressure, high blood
pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension),
irregular heart rhythms,
coronary artery disease, and
Will treating sleep apnea help me?
that treating sleep apnea can reduce sleepiness.1, 2 It may also improve blood
pressure.3, 4, 5 For people with sleep apnea and coronary artery disease,
treatment of sleep apnea can lower the risk of some problems such as heart
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