Apnea is a disorder of
breathing during sleep. Typically it is accompanied by loud snoring. Apnea
during sleep consist of brief periods throughout the night in which breathing
stops. People with sleep apnea do not get enough oxygen during sleep.
There are 2 major types.
Sleep Apnea is the most common type and is due to an obstruction
in the throat during sleep. Bed partners notice pauses approx. 10 to 60
seconds between loud snores. The narrowing of the upper airway can be
a result of several factors including inherent physical characteristics,
excess weight, and alcohol consumption before sleep.
Sleep Apnea - caused by a delay in the signal form the
brain to breath . With both obstructive and central apnea you must wake
up briefly to breathe, sometimes
hundreds of times during the night. Usually
there is no memory of these brief awakenings.
- Loud Snoring
- Waking up unrefreshed and having trouble staying awake during the day
- Waking up with headaches
- Waking up during the night with the sensation of choking
- Waking up sweating
- Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night
- Insomnia - problem staying asleep
- Being overweight but not necessary
- Waking and gasping for air
Go to Sandman's Book Store. Most books that
on Apnea are listed in the General and Sleep Apnea Category.
Sleep Apnea and
Snoring in Depth
Sleep Apnea Syndrome is
characterized by repetitive episodes of upper airway obstruction that occur
during sleep, usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation.
In other words, the airway becomes obstructed at several possible sites.
The upper airway can be obstructed by excess tissue in the airway, large
tonsils, a large tongue and usually includes the airway muscles relaxing
and collapsing when asleep. Another site of obstruction can be the nasal
passages. Sometimes the structure of the jaw and airway can be a factor
in sleep apnea.
There is also Central
Sleep Apnea. It also is characterized by the cessation of breath
due to a lack of effort in breathing during sleep. Central Sleep Apnea is
not as common as OSA and is more difficult to diagnose. Typically it is
do to some neuromuscular problem but other sources could be the cause.
- very sleepy during the day
- breathing stops frequently during sleep. (usually unaware).
Effects of OSA:
- loud snoring
- morning headaches
- chest pulls in during sleep
in young children
- high blood pressure
- overweight, but not always
- a dry mouth upon awakening
- difficulty concentrating
- excessive perspiring during
- reduced libido
- frequent trips to the bath
room during the night
- restless sleep
- rapid weight gain
a serious condition?
is a potentially life-threatening condition that may require immediate medical
attention. The risks of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea
include heart attacks, strokes, impotence, irregular heartbeat, high blood
pressure and heart disease. In addition, obstructive sleep apnea causes
daytime sleepiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and interpersonal
relationship problems. The severity of the symptoms may be mild, moderate
does the doctor determine if you have OSA?
A sleep test, called polysomnography
is usually done to diagnose sleep apnea. There are two kinds of polysomnograms. An
overnight polysomnography test involves monitoring brain waves, muscle tension,
eye movement, respiration, oxygen level in the blood and audio monitoring.
(for snoring, gasping, etc.) The second kind of polysomnography test
is a home monitoring test. A Sleep Technologist hooks you up to all
the electrodes and instructs you on how to record your sleep with a computerized
polysomnograph that you take home and return in the morning. They are
painless tests that are usually covered by insurance.
is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Mild Sleep Apnea
is usually treated by some behavioral changes. Losing weight, sleeping
on your side are often recommended. There are oral mouth devices (that
help keep the airway open) on the market that may help to reduce snoring
in three different ways. Some devices (1) bring the jaw forward or
(2) elevate the soft palate or (3) retain the tongue (from falling back
in the airway and blocking breathing). Sleep Apnea is a progressive
condition (gets worse as you age) and should not be taken lightly.
severe Sleep Apnea is usually
treated with a C-PAP (continuos positive airway
pressure). CPAP is a machine that blows air into your nose
via a nose mask, keeping the airway open and unobstructed. For more
severe apnea, there is a Bi-level (Bi-PAP) machine. The
BI-level machine is different in that it blows air at two different pressures. When
a person inhales, the pressure is higher and in exhaling, the pressure is
lower. Your sleep doctor will "prescribe" your pressure and a home
healthcare company will set it up and provide training in its use and maintenance.
Some people have
facial deformities that may cause the sleep apnea. It simply
may be that their jaw is smaller than it should be or they could have a
smaller opening at the back of the throat. Some people have enlarged
tonsils, a large tongue or some other tissues partially blocking the airway. Fixing
a deviated septum may help to open the nasal passages. Removing the
tonsils and adenoids or polyps may help also. Children are much more
likely to have their tonsils and adenoids removed.
There are several other surgical
treatments. Usually a surgeon will ask the patient to be on CPAP
for at least month to see if they get better. If CPAP cannot help then surgery
is probably not the right thing to do. These treatments include, removing
excess tissue to clear the airway, moving the tongue forward, and moving
the upper and lower jaw forward. There and other procedures try to increase
the size of the upper airway.
Snoring in Depth
I'm sure just about everyone
is somewhat familiar with snoring. You
probably know at least one person who snores. It could be your bed
partner, your parents, grandparents, even Uncle Ned or Aunt Sophie who may
snore at various sound levels. Some laugh and make jokes about it,
but it can be a symptom of a serious disorder called obstructive sleep apnea. And
if it is obstructive sleep apnea, then it is no laughing matter, and that
individual needs to get evaluated by a sleep specialist. Information
on apnea is available at the above link.
is a noise produced when an individual breathes (usually produced when breathing
in) during sleep which in turn causes vibration of the soft palate and uvula
(that thing that hangs down in the back of the throat). The word "apnea"
means the absence of breathing.
All snorers have an partial obstruction of the
upper airway. Many habitual snorers have complete
episodes of upper airway obstruction where the airway is completely blocked
for a period of time, usually 10 seconds or longer. This silence is
usually followed by snorts and gasps as the individual fights to take a
breath. When an individual snores so loudly that it disturbs others,
obstructive sleep apnea is almost certain to be present.
There is snoring that is an
indicator of obstructive sleep apnea and there is also primary
Snoring, also known as simple snoring, snoring without sleep
apnea, noisy breathing during sleep, benign snoring, rhythmical snoring
and continuous snoring is characterized by loud upper airway breathing sounds
in sleep without episodes of apnea (cessation
Does Primary Snoring Differ from Snoring with OSA?
- You wake up feeling refreshed
- No evidence of insomnia
- You do not experience
excessive sleepiness during the day
(sleep study) that shows:
- Snoring and other sounds often
occurring for long episodes during the sleep period
- No associated abrupt arousals,
arterial oxygen desaturation (lowered amount of oxygen in the blood) or
- Normal sleep patterns
- Normal respiratory patterns
- No signs of other sleep disorders
can be done about Primary Snoring?
First of all, it is absolutely
necessary to rule out obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disorders. Be
wary of any doctor who says it is not necessary. Behavioral and lifestyle
changes may be suggested. Losing weight, sleeping on your side, refraining
from alcohol and sedatives are often recommended.
There are mouth/oral
devices (that help keep the airway open) on the market that may
help to reduce snoring in three different ways.
- Some devices:
- bring the jaw forward or
- elevate the soft palate or
- retain the tongue (from falling
back in the airway and thus decreasing snoring).
There is also surgery. There
is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
or Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP),
that involves removing excess tissue from the throat.
The newest surgery, approved
by the FDA in July 1997 for treating snoring is called somnoplasty
and uses radio frequency waves to remove excess tissue.
I hope you found this information
useful. If you have any questions please go to The
Sleep Apnea Homepage. You may also try the Sleep Test and see how you score for OSA.
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