Quick Facts: Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder when breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. The interruptions are brief, but they can stop for a minute or longer.

There are different types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open. Another form is central sleep apnea in which the brain fails to properly regulate breathing during sleep. 

While anyone can have sleep apnea, it is most common in men.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The most noticeable symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, which is often noticed by the affected persons’ partners even before they notice themselves.

Other symptoms may include obesity, persistent daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, irritability, awakening out of breath during the night and waking with a dry mouth or a headache.  A sleep study is a reliable way to definitively diagnose sleep apnea and its severity.

What are the potential complications of sleep apnea?

Untreated sleep apnea can have serious and sometimes life-threatening consequences, including:

What can I do to help prevent sleep apnea?

Some prevention methods include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do not smoke
  • Avoid alcohol, tranquilizers and sedatives, which relax muscles in your throat
  • Manage nasal congestion
  • Visit your physician regularly to monitor your risk

What are the treatments for sleep apnea?

Treatments for sleep apnea include:

  • Weight loss and other lifestyle modifications, such as eliminating tobacco and limiting alcohol use
  • Nasal decongestants 
  • Positional therapy or learning to sleep on your side 
  • Surgery to remove obstructions to breathing 
  • Oral appliance therapy, which positions the jaw to keep the airway open 
  • Positive airway pressure devices, frequently a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine 

What are the rates of sleep apnea in the U.S.?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million Americans have sleep apnea.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 50-70 million adults in the United States have chronic sleep and wakefulness disorders, including sleep apnea.

How does Doctors Community Hospital help people who have sleep apnea?

Our Sleep Center is the only program in the county accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  With appointments available seven days a week, we provide board-certified sleep specialists, overnight sleep studies and CPAP equipment assessments.  Also, we have ten beautiful and private sleep study bedrooms with flat screen televisions and full bathrooms – all designed to help you get a better night’s sleep. 

Learn more about our Sleep Center