What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes individuals to stop breathing several times during sleep each night. The pause can last anywhere from several seconds to a couple of minutes. Each time an episode occurs, it causes a significant reduction in the patient’s oxygen level, triggering the brain to wake the patient to restart breathing. Sleep apnea causes the patient to be drowsy during the next day and it’s been tied to a number of serious health issues.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three types of sleep apnea, all of which require professional intervention:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea. Caused by a blockage of the airway that occurs when the tongue and other soft tissue fall back into the throat during sleep, estimates by the National Sleep Foundation suggest that 4% of men and 2% of women in the United States suffer from the condition.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) occurs when the brain fails to to prompt the muscles that are necessary for breathing. Unlike obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea is neurological – there’s no physical obstruction preventing airflow. Treating this form of sleep apnea requires specialized care from a neurologist.
  3. Complex/Mixed Sleep Apnea is a simultaneous occurrence of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. In addition to obstruction of the airway, patients also experience nerve disconnect, preventing the brain from sending messages to the muscles to continue breathing. Treating this form of sleep apnea may start with CPAP and oral appliance therapy then ultimately require help from a neurologist.

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

Getting an official diagnosis starts with a screening at our office. If you’re feeling sluggish or drowsy during the day, or if you or your partner is showing symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring, frequent pauses in breathing, or gasping for air during sleep, we encourage you to make an appointment with Dr. Dani as soon as possible. We work with health professionals throughout Kenilworth and greater Chicago to help patients get the official diagnosis needed to start treatment.

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