What is sleep apnea?

Woman Sleeping

Tired after a full night's sleep?  Snoring and keeping your loved ones awake?  It is estimated that about 22 million of Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and approximately 80% of moderate to severe cases are undiagnosed!  Sleep apnea is when a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing throughout their sleep, cutting off airflow to the lungs.  The number of times this occurs through the night varies from person to person, but can range anywhere from five times an hour to 100 times an hour, for up to a minute at a time!  


There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the most common, central sleep apnea (CSA), which is rare, and a mixture of the two (MSA). 


With OSA, a person’s throat muscles relax and their tongue & soft palate collapse against the back of the throat, closing, or obstructing, the airway.  If left untreated, this lack of oxygen during sleep can cause serious damage to the brain and body, including (but not limited to): high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, heart disease, or stroke.