Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Do you snore loudly? Do you wake up feeling excessively tired?

You may have obstructive sleep apnea. Normally, air flows smoothly from the mouth and nose into the lungs at all times. But for people with sleep apnea, their breathing may repeatedly stop throughout the night for 10 seconds or more. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, in which the airway has become narrowed or blocked, decreasing the oxygen supply to your brain and body. In adults, the most common cause of sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity. Heredity, underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), high blood pressure, diabetes and allergies can also play a role.

Men are four times more likely than women to be diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring is characteristic of obstructive sleep apnea, as the airflow squeezes through the narrowed airway space. Untreated sleep apnea can cause serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, even stroke. Be sure to see your physician if you experience any of the symptoms listed here. You may be referred to a sleep specialist for evaluation and diagnosis. More severe cases are treated with a either a mouthpiece or a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to keep your airway passages open while you sleep.

Symptoms may include:
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Loud snoring
• Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
• Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
• Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
• Morning headache
• Difficulty concentrating during the day
• Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
• High blood pressure
• Nighttime sweating
• Decreased libido

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