Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to stop for short periods of time while sleeping.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes your breathing to stop for short periods of time while sleeping.

This interrupted sleep can lead to excessive snoring, daytime sleepiness, and the need for frequent naps. Sleep apnea is also associated with the development of health issues such as diabetes, heart attacks, and high blood pressure.

Side health Sleep apnea
You may also suffer in your job performance and can be at increased risk of a motor vehicle accident with untreated sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a very common condition, affecting around 25% of adults worldwide, however a large portion of patients are not aware that they have this condition.

Classifications of Sleep Apnea


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is the most common form of sleep apnea. The condition occurs when your upper airway becomes partially or completely blocked repeatedly during sleep. This blockage occurs when your throat muscles relax and areas of your mouth or throat drop into the airway. Breathing usually resumes when your body recognizes that it is not getting the oxygen that it needs and wakes you up out of sleep. For many patients this can happen as often 5-30 times per hour and may be so brief they do not remember waking up at night. These constant awakenings prevent you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep and feeling rested in the morning.


Central Sleep Apnea

In central sleep apnea, the brain does not send the signals to your breathing muscles to breathe the way it should. Usually patients who have central sleep apnea have a condition that affects the brainstem, which controls breathing. Some medical conditions that can cause central sleep apnea include heart failure, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, or kidney failure.

Mixed Sleep Apnea

When a patient experiences a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea, it is classified as mixed sleep apnea.


The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include tiredness, daytime sleepiness, and excessive snoring. Additional symptoms may include:
Dry mouth/throat
Waking up gasping or choking
Restless or poor sleep


The diagnosis of sleep apnea is based on your medical history and symptoms, physical examination, and testing. Sleep apnea is confirmed by a sleep study (also called a polysomnogram) which can be performed in a lab or at home.


The goal of treatment for patients with obstructive sleep apnea is to keep the airway open during sleep and normalize your breathing during sleep.

Lifestyle Changes

There are steps you can take in your everyday life that can help reduce symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea including:
Weight loss and exercise if overweight/obese
Having healthy sleeping habits
Avoiding alcohol or other medications that could cause drowsiness
Quit smoking

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)

The most common and effective treatment for sleep apnea is through use of a CPAP device. CPAP helps to keep your airway open while you sleep by providing a gentle but constant stream of positive air pressure through a mask. The device is fitted and worn in your nasal passageways, over your nose, or over your mouth and nose. The settings for your device are then further individualized based on your home study results. It may be uncomfortable to wear at first, but it is very important to use your device daily for effective treatment. Patients generally notice that they feel better and more rested when they are being treated for their sleep apnea.

Oral Appliance/ Mandibular repositioning device (MRD)

This device is an oral appliance that helps to bring the jaw and tongue forward while sleeping, increasing the size of the upper airway. It can help to reduce snoring, but does not work as well as CPAP devices and is usually used in more mild cases of sleep apnea.


Surgery is not a common option for treatment, but can be performed in certain cases when additional treatment has failed.

In summary, sleep apnea is a condition that can negatively affect many aspects of your life and can have long term consequences if it is not treated properly. If you suspect you could have sleep apnea, call our clinic for an appointment so that you can get the quality sleep you deserve!