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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is this condition?

Sleep apnea is the interruption of sleep during normal sleep cycles. The disruption in sleep patterns is potentially serious because it causes breathing to start and stop throughout the apnea cycle.

Main types of sleep apnea

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The most common form of apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat relax during sleep.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: Happens when the brain does not send the correct signal to the muscles that control breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: The combination of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

Factors that can lead to sleep apnea include

  • Family history
  • Excess weight
  • Large neck circumference
  • Age
  • Use of alcohol and sedatives
  • Nasal congestion
  • Smoking

All types of apnea occur in men more often than women. However, the incidence of sleep apnea increases in women who are overweight and in all women after menopause.

Signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apnea

  • Loud snoring
  • Observed stopping breathing during the night or during other periods of sleep (this would be witnessed by another person)
  • Difficulty staying asleep at night
  • Difficulty staying awake during the day
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Inability to focus and pay attention


Your physician will evaluate your specific condition and make recommendations that are best suited to your needs.

Treatment may include a sleep study, lifestyle changes or the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) during sleep.