Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans daily. In individuals who suffer from this sleep disorder, breathing repeatedly stops and starts; most often, they will snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night of sleep. There are several forms of sleep apnea—the most common is obstructive sleep apnea in which the muscles in the throat relax.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when the muscles in the back of the throat relax causing the airway to narrow. This creates the stopping and starting of breathing and will create a quick shortness of breath that usually results in snorting, snoring, choking or a gasping sound. The risk for having sleep apnea is increased in individuals who are older, male, overweight, who have high blood pressure, who smoke and who have a family history of the condition.
Some of the symptoms associated with sleep apnea include loud snoring, abrupt awakening during the middle of sleep, daytime sleepiness, headaches, insomnia.
If one is experiencing a mild case of sleep apnea, certain lifestyle changes may help treat the condition. For example, losing weight, quitting smoking and changing one’s diet might help. There are airway therapies, devices, oral appliances and in more severe cases, surgical options that can help remove excess tissue from the nose and/or throat so that air passages can be opened.