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(Obstructive Apnea; Central Apnea; Mixed Apnea)
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- Obstructive apnea—caused by a temporary, partial, or complete blockage of the airway
- Central apnea—caused by a temporary failure to make an effort to breathe
- Mixed apnea—a combination of the first two types
- Sex: male
- Large neck circumference
- Age: middle to older age
- Family history of apnea
Structural abnormalities of the nose, throat, or other part of the respiratory tract. Examples include:
- Severely enlarged tonsils
- Deviated nasal septum
- Medicines: sedatives and sleeping aids
- Alcohol consumption
- Fatigue and sleepiness during waking hours
- Loud snoring
- Breathing that stops during the night that—as noticed by a bed partner
- Repeated waking at night
- Unrefreshing sleep
- Morning headaches
- Poor concentration or problems with memory
- Irritability or short temper
Overnight Sleep Study (Polysomnography)
- Eye and muscle movements
- Brain activity using an electroencephalogram
- Heart rate
- Breathing pattern and depth
- The percent of your red blood cells that are saturated with oxygen
- Lose weight if you are overweight.
- Avoid using sedatives, sleeping pills, alcohol, and nicotine, which can make the condition worse.
- Try sleeping on your side instead of your back.
- Use pillows to increase your level of comfort when sleeping.
- For daytime sleepiness, practice safety measures, such as avoiding driving or operating potentially hazardous equipment.
- Adenotonsillectomy—The adenoids and tonsils are removed.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty—Excess soft tissue is removed from the nose and/or throat.
- Maxillomandibular advancement—The jawbone is repositioned forward.
- Tracheotomy —For life-threatening cases of sleep apnea, an opening is made in the windpipe to allow for normal breathing.
American Sleep Apnea Association http://www.sleepapnea.org
National Sleep Foundation http://www.sleepfoundation.org
Canadian Lung Association http://www.lung.ca
Canadian Sleep Society http://www.canadiansleepsociety.ca
American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The International Classification of Sleep Disorders. 2nd ed. Westchester, IL; American Academy of Sleep Medicine; 2005.
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/what.php . Updated May 23, 2013. Accessed June 3, 2013.
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 June 3, 2013.
Smith I, Lasserson TJ, Wright J. Drug therapy for obstructive sleep apnea. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2006;19:CD003002.
- Reviewer: Rimas Lukas, MD; Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 06/2013
- Update Date: 09/26/2013