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Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes INTERRUPTION IN BREATHING DURING SLEEP For most people who suffer from sleep apnea, it’s an ongoing, chronic condition. Pauses in breathing often interrupt sleep, causing the sleeping person to wake up or move from a deep sleep into a lighter sleep. As a result, sleep apnea can lead to chronic exhaustion and daytime sleepiness. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea, which means the airway is being blocked or collapsing during sleep.
Sleep apnea may be hard to DIAGNOSE since doctors can’t usually detect it during routine office visits. Since the breathing pauses occur during sleep, often patients don’t realize they are happening. A partner or family member may be the first to notice the loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds that are likely indicators of sleep apnea. If someone notices you seem to be having trouble breathing during sleep, or if you feel chronically exhausted, it’s important to see a doctor, who will check your mouth, nose and throat for extra tissues, and potentially perform a sleep study.
Other signs of sleep apnea include morning headaches, memory and concentration problems, irritable mood, frequently waking up to urinate during the night, and a consistent dry mouth or sore throat in the morning.
One of the biggest risk factors for sleep apnea is being overweight. You’re also more likely to have sleep apnea if you’re male. The risk for sleep apnea increases with age.
However, small children sometimes have sleep apnea caused by enlarged tonsil tissues. Obesity can also increase the risk for sleep apnea in children. Other risk factors include smoking, allergies, a narrow airway, using alcohol or sedatives, heart disorders, high blood pressure or strokes.
Sleep apnea, though common, is a serious condition that requires treatment. When left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and obesity. It can increase the risk of or worsen heart failure.
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It is not our intention to serve as a substitute for medical advice and any content posted should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. While we encourage individuals to share their personal experiences with COPD, please consult a physician before making changes to your own COPD management plan.