What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea means that
your breathing often is blocked or partly
blocked during sleep. The problem can be mild to severe, based on
how often your lungs don't get enough air. This may happen from 5 to
more than 50 times an hour.
This topic focuses on obstructive sleep apnea, which is the most common
A less common type of apnea, called central sleep apnea,
can occur in people who have had a stroke, have heart failure, or have a brain
tumor or infection. Even though this topic isn't about central sleep apnea,
some of the treatments discussed here may also help treat it. Talk with your
doctor to find out more about central sleep apnea.
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
narrowed airways in your nose, mouth, or throat can cause sleep apnea. Your
airway can become blocked when your throat muscles and tongue relax during
Sleep apnea can also occur if you have large
tonsils or adenoids or a large
uvula. During the day, when you are awake and standing
up, these may not cause problems. But when you lie down at night, they can
press down on your airway, narrowing it and causing sleep apnea. Sleep apnea
can also occur if you have a problem with your jawbone.
children, the main cause of sleep apnea is large
tonsils or adenoids .
Sleep apnea is more likely to occur if you are
overweight, use certain medicines or alcohol before bed, or sleep on your
See pictures of
normal and blocked airways during sleep.
What are the symptoms?
The main symptoms of sleep apnea that you may
- Not feeling rested after a night?s
- Feeling sleepy during the day.
- Waking up with a
Your bed partner may notice that while you sleep:
- You stop breathing.
- You often snore
- You gasp or choke.
- You toss and turn.
Children who have sleep apnea:
- Nearly always snore.
be hyperactive or have problems paying attention during the
- May be
restless during sleep and wake up often. They also may have problems
But children may not seem very sleepy during the day (a key
symptom in adults). The only symptom of sleep apnea in some children may be
that they do not grow as quickly as most children their age.
Can sleep apnea cause other problems?
If you have
sleep apnea, you may not be sleeping as well as you could. And you may be more
likely to end up with serious problems such as: