Sleep apnea is a disorder with pauses in breathing. It happens during sleep. These pauses can last for 10 to 30 seconds at a time. It interrupts sleep.
There are three types of sleep apnea:
Causes depend on the type of sleep apnea:
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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Sleep apnea is more common in men and adults over 40 years. Other things that may raise the risk are:
People with sleep apnea may snore loudly. They may wake often during sleep.
Other problems may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. A sleep study may be done at home or in a clinic. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment is to improve sleep and prevent health problems. Treatment depends on the cause and type of sleep apnea. Options may be:
Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise may lower the risk of this problem.
American Sleep Apnea Association
National Sleep Foundation
Canadian Sleep Society
The Lung Association
Central sleep apnea. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/central-sleep-apnea. Accessed January 7, 2021.
Marin-Oto M, Vicente EE, et al. Long term management of obstructive sleep apnea and its comorbidities. Multidiscip Respir Med 14, 21 (2019).
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/obstructive-sleep-apnea-osa-in-adults. Accessed January 7, 2021.
Sleep apnea. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-apnea. Accessed January 7, 2021.
12/20/2016 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/central-sleep-apnea: Costanzo MR, Ponikowski P, et al. Transvenous neurostimulation for central sleep apnoea: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet. 2016;388(10048):974-982.
Last reviewed February 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 1/7/2021