What is sleep apnea?

  • Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder that causes frequent lapses in breathing during sleep, and is often accompanied by snoring. Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that increases risk of heart related death if it is left untreated.

  • There are 2 categories of sleep apnea:
    • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is usually caused when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses during sleep. The more common of the two forms of apnea, it is caused by a blockage of the airway.

    • Central Sleep Apnea is not caused by airway blockage, but rather instability in the respiratory control center. In this case, the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe.

What Are High Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?

  • Obesity
  • Over the age of forty
  • Large neck size
    • 17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women
  • Larger tonsils
  • Family history of sleep apnea

How is sleep apnea treated?

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) is the most effective nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea. It is the first treatment choice and the most widely used for moderate to severe sleep apnea. The CPAP machine, available in Special Care’s line of airway management products, works to keep airways open during sleep and prevents breathing impairment. CPAP is worn as a mask over the nose and mouth during sleep.

  • Certain lifestyle modifications can also contribute to relief from sleep apnea
    • Weight loss
    • Avoid alcohol and sleeping pills
    • Change sleep positions to promote regular breathing and avoid sleeping
      on your back
    • Stop smoking (it can increase swelling in the upper airway passages)



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