Interrupting a person’s breathing during sleep is considered a serious sleep disorder. Untreated, sleep apnea may stop breathing repeatedly during a person’s sleep as often as hundreds of times during the night.
Of the two types of sleep apnea, obstructive and central, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the more common of the two. OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, causing a temporary cessation of breathing, usually as a result of soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapsing during sleep. These brief obstructions result in many sleep interruptions each hour, drastically affecting the quality of sleep. Since these interruptions are rarely remembered, sleep apnea sufferers are often unaware of the cause of their symptoms. OSA may cause daytime drowsiness, increased irritability or depression, decreased concentration, reduced work productivity and even frequent accidents or mishaps, including serious traffic accidents. Loud, consistent snoring is a hallmark of obstructive sleep apnea as well.
During central sleep apnea, the airway remains clear and unblocked. The brain, however, fails to signal the muscles to breathe properly due to instability in the respiratory control center. It is called central sleep apnea because it results from a failure in the function and communication of the central nervous system.
Due to the debilitating effects of this disorder, if you believe you, a friend or family members suffers from these symptoms, consult your primary physician, or schedule a consultation with Mountain View Sleep Lab.