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What is sleep apnea

Learn more about understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?


OSA is a common, yet often undiagnosed sleep disorder. It afflicts 20 million adult men and women in the U.S. People who have OSA stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because their airway collapses.

Sleep apnea is a little known yet common disorder that creates pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses in breathing can range from a few seconds to even a minute or longer. They can occur 30 or more times per hour which has a potentially negative impact on your heart and although you typically will begin to breathe again the quality of you sleep is poor and this will cause excessive daytime fatigue. 

When you have these sleep disturbances you will not remain in the necessary deep sleep cycle in order for you to wake up refreshed. The most common type of sleep disorder is obstructive sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea your airway collapses or becomes partially blocked while you are sleeping causing shallow breathing or pauses in breathing. The air that squeezes through the partially blocked airway creates a vibration in the airway commonly known as loud snoring.

Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke and diabetes type 2. Obstructive sleep apnea may also create arrhythmias or irregular heartbeats. Sleep apnea is known to increase traffic accidents and work related accidents as well.

The most common symptom of sleep apnea is loud snoring followed by choking or gasping in your sleep. Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include morning headaches, lack of concentration, depression, irritability, dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up.

What should I do if I suspect I suffer from sleep apnea? Speak to your doctor. Your doctor will prescribe an evaluation or sleep study for suspected sleep apnea.

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