What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that occurs when someone has one or more pauses in breathing while sleeping.
Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 times or more an hour. Typically, normal breathing then starts again, sometimes with a loud snort or choking sound, this may be the first sign of sleep apnea as witnessed by a sleeping partner.
Sleep apnea is an ongoing condition that disrupts sleep. Pauses in breathing do not allow for deep sleep throughout the night. Sleep apnea is one leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test can help diagnose the condition.
Most people who have sleep apnea don’t know they have it because it only occurs during sleep. A family member or bed partner might be the first to notice signs of sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. This causes shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
When you try to breathe, any air that squeezes past the blockage can cause loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, but it can affect anyone. For example, small children who have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats may have obstructive sleep apnea.
Watch the video below to learn more about sleep apnea.
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