Sleep apnea is a condition where the soft tissue collapse and block the airway due to your muscles becoming overly relaxed during sleep. This results in you not breathing, lasting anywhere from several seconds to a minute (or more).
If left untreated, sleep apnea can be dangerous, and even life-threatening in some cases.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness or tiredness
- Episodes where someone has noticed you stopped breathing during sleep
Risk Factors associated with Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. But certain factors increase your risk. Factors that can increase the risk of sleep apnea include:
- Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea.
- People with larger neck circumference usually have narrower airways.
- You might also have inherited a narrow throat. Tonsils or adenoids also can enlarge and block the airway, particularly in children.
- Sleep apnea occurs significantly more often in older adults.
- Having family members with sleep apnea might increase your risk.
- Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. However, women increase their risk if they're overweight, and their risk also appears to rise after menopause.
If you, or someone you know, struggle with snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, irritability, fatigue, and insomnia, it may be time to consult an expert to explore whether the culprit is obstructive sleep apnea.
An oral appliance is a proven effective treatment option for many sleep apnea patients. These are devices which are fitted by a dentist or orthodontist and which the patient wears during sleep.