20179 Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System
  • Conditions InDepth: Sleep Apnea

    Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops for brief periods of time while a person is sleeping. These episodes of interrupted breathing last anywhere from 10-30 seconds at a time, and may occur up to 20-30 times per hour. Over the course of a single night’s sleep, this can mean up to 400 episodes of interrupted breathing.
    Normal Upper Airway During Sleep
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    Every time you stop breathing, you interfere with the normal patterns of deep sleep. You may not even realize it, but you are awakening regularly in order to resume breathing. The quality of sleep that you get is greatly impaired. The next day, your level of alertness and your ability to pay attention may be seriously affected.
    Blocked Airway
    IMAGE
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    Some of the risks associated with sleep apnea include:
    • Increased risk of accidents (especially car accidents) due to inattention and inability to stay alert during normal waking hours
    • Higher risk of heart disease
    • Increased risk of stroke
    • Increased risk of lung disease
    • Increased risk of hypertension
    • Increased risk of diabetes
    There are several different kinds of sleep apnea. These include:

    Obstructive Sleep Apnea

    This is caused by a temporary airway obstruction. This blockage may be partial or complete. Obstructive sleep apnea can occur when the tissues of your throat relax too much and cave in on each other. If you’re overweight, your excess tissue might be putting too much pressure on your airway, causing it to collapse. You may have a deviated septum , nasal polyps , large tonsils, or an elongated soft palate and uvula that obstruct your airway while you are sleeping.
    For children, the most common reason for obstructive sleep apnea is enlarged tonsils and adenoids.

    Central Sleep Apnea

    This occurs when an area of the brain (called the lower brain stem) neglects to send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Conditions that cause problems with the lower brain stem include certain types of polio , encephalitis , stroke , brain tumors , and various degenerative diseases affecting the brain and central nervous system.

    Mixed Sleep Apnea

    This form includes aspects of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
    The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute estimates that 12 million Americans have sleep apnea, with more than half of these people being overweight.
    What are the risk factors for sleep apnea?What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?How is sleep apnea diagnosed?What are the treatments for sleep apnea?Are there screening tests for sleep apnea?How can I reduce my risk of sleep apnea?What questions should I ask my doctor?What is it like to live with sleep apnea?Where can I get more information about sleep apnea?

    References

    American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/resources/pubs/evaluated.html . Published May 2005. Accessed September 17, 2008.

    Botros N, Concato J, Mohsenin V, et al. Obstructive sleep apnea as a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Am J Med . 2009;122(12):1122-1127.

    Cecil R, Goldman L, Benett JC. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.

    NINDS sleep apnea information page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/sleep%5Fapnea/sleep%5Fapnea.htm . Updated June 2008. Accessed September 17, 2008.

    Sleep apnea: key points. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/SleepApnea/SleepApnea%5FSummary.html . Accessed September 17, 2008.

    Revision Information

  • Join WellZones today.

    Make a Change For LifeLearn more

    Wellmont LiveWell is creating a new tradition of wellness in the mountains by providing individuals with tools and encouragement to live healthier lifestyles.

  • HeartSHAPE Spotlight

    At risk for a heart attack? Learn more

    Fight heart disease early and prevent heart attacks with HeartSHAPE® - a painless, non-invasive test that takes pictures of your heart to scan for early-stage coronary disease.

  • Calories and Energy Needs

    Calorie NeedsLearn more

    How many calories do you need to eat each day to maintain your weight and fuel your physical activity? Enter a few of your stats into this calculator to find out.

  • Ideal Body Weight

    Ideal Body WeightLearn more

    Using body mass index as a reference, this calculator determines your ideal body weight range. All you need to do is enter your height.

  • Body Mass Index

    Body Mass IndexLearn more

    This tool considers your height and weight to assess your weight status.


  • Can we help answer your questions?

    Wellmont Nurse Connection is your resource for valuable health information any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Speak to a Nurse any time, day or night, at (423) 723-6877 or toll-free at 1-877-230-NURSE.