What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by one or more of the following occurring during sleep:
- A pause in breathing
- Periods of shallow or infrequent breathing
- Pauses that last anywhere from ten seconds to several minutes
- Pauses occurring multiple times each hour
There are three types of sleep apnea:
- Central (CSA), in which breathing is interrupted by a lack of respiratory effort;
- Obstructive (OSA), in which breathing is interrupted by a physical block of airflow – this often results in snoring
- Mixed, which is a combination of both CSA and OSA
The person who suffers from sleep apnea is rarely aware that it is happening, even when they wake up. Often, it is most recognized by others who witness the person experiencing sleep apnea episodes. For the person who is experiencing the sleep apnea, they may find themselves experiencing extreme daytime drowsiness, fatigue and even vision problems due to a poor night’s sleep. Many times, they become conditioned to these feelings of daytime tiredness and are not even aware that anything is wrong.
Sleep apnea is a condition that is not limited to adults only, but some children as well. Additionally, men are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea than women and children, although the condition can be found in all three.
There are certain risk factors that may put you at a greater risk for sleep apnea:
- Over the age of 40 – although it can occur at any age, children included
- Large neck size (greater than 17 inches in men, 16 inches in women)
- Large tonsils or tongue; small jaw bone
- Family history of sleep apnea