Sleep apnea is a common condition in the United States. It can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is known as obstructive sleep apnea. If the brain does not send the signals needed to breathe, the condition may be called central sleep apnea.
Healthcare providers use sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea. They record the number of episodes of slow or stopped breathing and the number of central sleep apnea events detected in an hour. They also determine whether oxygen levels in the blood are lower during these events.
Breathing devices such as continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machines and lifestyle changes are common sleep apnea treatments. Undiagnosed or untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, glaucoma, diabetes, cancer, and cognitive and behavioral disorders.
Explore this Health Topic to learn more about sleep apnea and how to live with it.
Living With Sleep Apnea
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is important that you adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle habits and use your prescribed treatment. Read more about how to use and care for your breathing device or mouthpiece, how your doctor may monitor whether your treatment is working, and when you may need a repeat sleep study. Learn other tips to keep you safe if you have sleep apnea.