Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops during sleep for at least ten seconds at least five times an hour. Mild sleep apnea causes few symptoms, but may lead to low oxygen levels, which can be life threatening. Sleep apnea is more common in people who smoke, drink alcohol or are overweight. It may also occur in people at high altitudes.
There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is due to a blockage in the airways. Central sleep apnea is caused by a problem with the nerves that control breathing. In some cases a mixture of both types of sleep apnea may occur.

The two types of sleep apnea:

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of OSA develop gradually whereas the symptoms of central sleep apnea may develop suddenly. You may not be the first one to notice you have sleep apnea — it may be a partner or family member who informs you. Symptoms of both types include:

Who Suffers?

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor can examine your nose and throat to look for an obstruction in your breathing. You could also have an endoscopy of the nose and throat done and X-rays or a CT scan of the head and neck. You may also have to undergo sleep studies to confirm a diagnosis as variables such as breathing, oxygen levels in the blood and heart rate need to be measured while you are asleep.

What are its consequences?

Sleep apnea increases the risk of:

What is the treatment?