Sleep Apnea - What Is It?
Are you concerned that you or your partner has sleep apnea? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides this definition:
“Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing the soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that last at least 10 seconds during sleep. Most pauses last between 10 and 30 seconds, but some may persist for one minute or longer. This can lead to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation, with oxygen falling as much as 40% or more in severe cases.
The brain responds to the lack of oxygen by alerting the body, causing a brief arousal from sleep that restores normal breathing. This pattern can occur hundreds of times in one night. The result is a fragmented quality of sleep that often produces an excessive level of daytime sleepiness.
Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They then make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when their airway reopens.”