What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from at least ten seconds to several minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times or more an hour. During apnea events, there is a drop in blood oxygen levels, increase in heart rate, a burst of stress hormones, and disrupted sleep when the body awakens slightly so that breathing will resume, sometimes with a gasp. This disorder can have major health consequences and can be life threatening. Excessive daytime sleepiness may cause you to fall asleep while driving.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

  • excessive weight
  • a family history of sleep apnea
  • a small lower jaw
  • a thick neck
  • a history of breathing difficulty during sleep as a child
  • nasal blockages
  • deformities of the throat and jaw
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Using alcohol, sedatives or tranquilizers
  • Large tongue

Each of these risks shares a tendency for the throat's anatomy to have a reduced airway diameter. A smaller airway increases the chances of Sleep Apnea Syndromes. By identifying what is causing the reduction in the airway, treatment for sleep apnea can be tailored to the most effective therapy.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

  • Excessive day time tiredness
  • Snoring
  • Headaches
  • Esophageal reflux
  • Irregular Breathing in sleep
  • Teeth Grinding-Bruxism
  • Gastric Reflux
  • Night Time Urination
  • Heart Attack and Stroke
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Cognitive Dysfunction

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Sleep apnea is diagnosed with an overnight study (called a polysomnography) in a sleep laboratory, followed by the determination of the best treatment option by a physician.