Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. The airway is repeatedly blocked, mainly due to the tongue falling back in the airway during sleep, reducing or stopping air from reaching your lungs. When this happens, you may snore or make choking noises as you try to breathe. Your brain and body become oxygen-deprived. This may happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night. Most of the episodes will go unnoticed by the patient. Sleep apnea increases the work of breathing and unknowingly disrupts sleep. So, it can cause you to wake up in the morning feeling tired or unrefreshed, even though you may have had a full night of sleep. During the day, you may feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating, or you may even unintentionally fall asleep. This is because your body is working hard to breathe and waking up numerous times throughout the night, even though you might not be conscious of each awakening.
The lack of oxygen to your body and disruption to sleep (that can result unknowingly) can have negative longterm consequences for your health. These include:
There are many people (adults and children alike) with sleep apnea who have not been diagnosed or received treatment. Our sleep medicine physicians can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea using an in-lab sleep study or a home sleep test. Sleep apnea is treatable using CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure), the front-line treatment for sleep apnea, oral appliance treatment (Somnoguard), positional therapy, weight loss programs and certain surgeries.