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What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea is a chronic disorder in which an individual’s breathing during sleep repeatedly stops and starts up again.

There are three different types of sleep apnea: Central Sleep Apnea, caused when the muscles controlling breathing don’t receive the right messages from the brain; Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the most common form that occurs when the throat muscles are too relaxed; and Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome, a combination of the first two types of Sleep Apnea.

The pauses in breathing that occur during Sleep Apnea last anywhere from just a few seconds in length to a more dangerous several minutes. This start and stop pattern can occur as much as 30 times within a one hour span of time.

Sleep Apnea can affect an individual’s health for a number of reasons. The quality of a person’s sleep is greatly undermined, causing the individual to feel tired upon awakening and continue to experience sleepiness throughout the day. This condition disrupts an individual’s sleep pattern, causing them to move out of a deep sleep and into a lighter sleep that is not as restorative.

If Sleep Apnea is not diagnosed and is left untreated, an individual’s health can suffer in a number of ways. Sleep Apnea increases the likelihood of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack. Sleep Apnea also increases the chance for heart failure and the likelihood that an individual’s heartbeat will become irregular. The sleepiness that results can also increase the risk of daytime accidents.

Unlike other chronic conditions, there is no blood test that can diagnose Sleep Apnea. But it is a chronic condition that requires long-term treatment using a variety of techniques, including changes in lifestyle, the use of mouthpieces and other breathing devices. Contact us to learn about how we can help!