Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops for brief periods of time while a person is sleeping. It can last for 10-30 seconds, and may occur up to 20-30 times per hour. During 1 night of sleep, this can cause up to 400 episodes of interrupted breathing.
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
There are three types of respiratory events:
Sleep apnea is more common in men and in adults over 40 years of age.
Factors that increase your chances of developing sleep apnea include:
Symptoms may include:
People with chronic, untreated sleep apnea may be at risk for:
An overnight sleep study is used to help diagnose sleep apnea.
This test helps detect the presence and severity of sleep apnea. During sleep, it measures your:
There are a number of treatment options for sleep apnea, including:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is done by wearing a mask over your nose and/or mouth during sleep. An air blower forces enough constant and continuous air through your air passages to prevent the tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Oral appliances that help keep the tongue or jaw in a more forward position may help those with mild to moderate sleep apnea. They can also be used for those with severe obstructive sleep apnea who cannot use CPAP therapy or have tried it without success.
In some cases, surgery may be advised. It is most often helpful in children.
Types of surgery that may be done to treat severe cases of sleep apnea include:
Bariatric surgery may help with weight loss in some people who are obese . This surgery may reduce many of the complications that are related to obesity, including sleep apnea.
Only used in central apnea, acetazolamide may help improve the ability to regulate breathing.
Supplemental oxygen may be given if blood levels of oxygen fall too low during sleep, even after opening the airway.
You may be able to prevent sleep apnea by maintaining a healthy weight . Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and sedatives, which may contribute to airway obstruction.
American Sleep Apnea Association
National Sleep Foundation
Canadian Lung Association
Canadian Sleep Society
Kushida CA, Littner MR, Hirshkowitz M, et al. Practice parameters for the use of continuous and bilevel positive airway pressure devices to treat adults with sleep-related breathing disorders. Sleep. 2006;29:375-380.
Littner MR, Kushida C, Wise M, et al. Practice parameters for clinical use of the multiple sleep latency test and the maintenance of wakefulness test. Sleep. 2005;28:113-121.
Morgenthaler TI, Kapen S, Lee-Chiong T, et al. Practice parameters for the medical therapy of obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep. 2006;29:1031-1035.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 12, 2015. Accessed January 15, 2015.
Pack AI, Maislin G. Who should get treated for sleep apnea? Ann Intern Med. 2001;134:1065-1067.
Sleep apnea. American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea.html. Accessed January 15, 2015.
Smith I, Lasserson TJ, Wright J. Drug therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;19:CD003002.
11/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: AIM Specialty Health guideline on management of obstructive sleep apnea using oral appliances. National Guideline Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://www.guideline.gov/content.aspx?id=48271. Updated May 20, 2014. Accessed January 15, 2015.
1/28/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Teodorescu M, Barnet JH, et al. Association between asthma and risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. JAMA. 2015 Jan 13;313(2):156-164.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Adrienne Carmack, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×