What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can be thought of as an extreme form of snoring. But unlike snoring, which is mostly a relationship or quality of life issue, sleep apnea is a disease with significant health implications. Snoring and sleep apnea both result from vibration of soft tissue in the throat. When we fall asleep, our muscles relax, and as we breathe through the relaxed tissues in the throat, they tend to vibrate. If they vibrate a little, we snore a little. If they vibrate a lot, we snore a lot. Sleep apnea is when they vibrate enough so that the tissue actually blocks the airway.

Why is sleep apnea dangerous?

Sleep apnea is dangerous because it prevents you from getting normal, restorative sleep. Every time your airway is blocked, your brain awakens you (very briefly) to re-open the airway. This disrupts normal sleep patterns and cycles. In addition, the stop breathing episodes can cause dangerous decreases in blood oxygen levels, robbing your brain and vital organs of the oxygen they require. Sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, obesity, erectile dysfunction and even depression and anxiety. As such, sleep apnea must be treated.

If I have sleep apnea, do I have to wear a CPAP mask for the rest of my life?

No, you don’t! Treatments are only as good as people’s ability to benefit from them, and most people who are given a CPAP mask do not wear it regularly. Studies show that fewer than 40% of people actually wear their CPAP regularly. Fortunately, there are effective treatment options that are much easier to live with. These minimally invasive options are what the Snoring Center specializes in.

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