Sleep apnea is a serious condition in which your breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep.
There are several types, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. Snoring is a noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea, although not all snoring means you have the condition.
Obstructive sleep apnea causes numerous health issues, including:
- Long interruptions of breathingduring sleep (more than 10 seconds in duration) caused by partial or total blockage of your airway
- Frequently waking up from sleep,even if you’re unaware of it
- Light sleeping due to your body trying to keep your throat muscles tense enough to maintain airflow
- Strain on your heart, including higher blood pressure, enlargement of the heart, and higher risks of heart attack and stroke
- Daytime sleepiness and fatigue that interferes with your ability to work and drive
- Low oxygen levels in the blood that can lead to constricted blood vessels in your lungs and eventually pulmonary hypertension
- Chronic headaches
If you think you have obstructive sleep apnea, we encourage you to consult with a medical professional who specializes in sleep disorders.