Overview

Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Both men and women of any age can develop sleep apnea. It can be divided into two different types:

  1. Central apnea happens when your nervous center either doesn't send signals to your lungs to breathe, or these signals aren’t transmitted correctly to your muscles that are responsible for breathing. Central sleep apnea is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea.
  2. Obstructive apnea (or OSA) happens when your tongue or soft tissues in the back of your throat block your airway. This blockage causes little or no airflow into your lungs and continues even though your body is trying to breathe.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

There are many factors that lead to sleep apnea. These factors can include the following:

  • family history
  • physical abnormality in your nose, throat, or other parts of your upper airway
  • body weight
  • medical/health problems
  • medication use
  • alcohol use
  • age
  • the altitude of your home

Other Conditions You Might Have if You Have Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, you may also have these other conditions:  

  • an irregular heartbeat,
  • high blood pressure,
  • heart attack,
  • stroke,
  • obesity,
  • diabetes, or
  • excessive sleepiness that can cause car accidents.

If you have any of the conditions listed above, it's a good idea to pay careful attention to your sleeping patterns. By working with your sleep specialist, you provider can determine the best treatment for your sleep apnea.