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American Family Children's Hospital
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Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common disorder affecting breathing during sleep. Apnea is a medical term for a pause in breathing. In OSA, there are intermittent apneas during sleep that are caused by the upper airway (the back of your throat) collapsing. As a result of these pauses in breathing, oxygen levels in the blood drop, which can be dangerous. To end an apnea and restore airflow and oxygen, the brain has to wake up briefly to open the upper airway, which leads to fragmented sleep.

 

Most people are not aware that they are having problems breathing during their sleep, and the problem is brought to their attention by bed partners, or because they notice symptoms of OSA during the day. Common symptoms can include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness and fatigue. Sleep apnea is a serious health problem because it is associated with increased risk for other diseases such as heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, effective treatments are available that can eliminate apneas, improve the quality of sleep for patients and their bed partners, and reduce risks for associated health problems.

 

Additional Information on Sleep Apnea