Skip to content

Sleep Apnea Health Center

Font Size

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain -- and the rest of the body -- may not get enough oxygen.

There are two types of sleep apnea:

Recommended Related to Sleep Apnea

Apnea, Sleep

Important It is possible that the main title of the report Apnea, Sleep is not the name you expected. Please check the synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and disorder subdivision(s) covered by this report.

Read the Apnea, Sleep article > >

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep.
  • Central sleep apnea: Unlike OSA, the airway is not blocked, but the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, due to instability in the respiratory control center.

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Being male
  • Being overweight
  • Being over age 40
  • Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What Are the Effects of Sleep Apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems, including:

In addition, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for poor performance in everyday activities, such as at work and school, motor vehicle crashes, and academic underachievement in children and adolescents.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on /2, 14 1
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Sleep Disorders What Are They
Man sleeping on plane
Sleep Fact or Fiction Test Yourself
Woman asleep with cpap mask on.
Pet scan depression
Nighttime Heartburn
Fight Fatigue Sleepiness On The Road
Sleep Apnea Appliance
Foods That Help Or Harm Your Sleep
Sleep Apnea Clues
Insomnia 20 Tips For Better Sleep
Breus Sleep Apnea

WebMD Special Sections