Facts about Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. Each pause can last for a few seconds to several minutes and they happen many times a night. In the most common form this follows loud snoring. There may be a choking or snorting sound as breathing resumes. As it disrupts normal sleep, those affected are often sleepy or tired during the day. In children it may cause problems in school or hyperactivity.
There are three forms of sleep apnea: obstructive (OSA), central (CSA), and a combination of the two.
OSA is the most common form. Risk factors for OSA include being overweight, a family history of the condition, allergies, and enlarged tonsils. In OSA, breathing is interrupted by a blockage of airflow.
While in CSA breathing stops due to a lack of effort to breathe. People with sleep apnea are often not aware they have it. Often it is picked up by a family member. Sleep apnea is often diagnosed with an overnight sleep study. For a diagnosis of sleep apnea, more than five episodes an hour must occur.
Treatments may include lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and surgery. Lifestyles changes may include avoiding alcohol, weight loss, stopping smoking, and sleeping on their side. Breathing devices include the use of a CPAP machine.Without treatment sleep apnea may increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, obesity, and motor vehicle collisions.