What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a characterized by stopped or slowed breathing during sleep. When breathing stops, you wake up, which causes sleep to become fragmented and less restful. Patients with sleep apnea often snore and may suffer from daytime drowsiness and morning headaches.
What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Blocked or narrowed airways in the nose, mouth or throat can cause sleep apnea. The airway can become blocked when your throat muscles and tongue relax during sleep. Sleep apnea can also occur if you have large tonsils or adenoids or a large uvula. In children, the main cause of sleep apnea is large tonsils or adenoids.
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How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Your doctor will probably examine you and ask about your past health. He or she may also ask you or your sleeping partner about your snoring and sleep behavior and how tired you feel during the day. You may be able to treat mild sleep apnea by making changes in how you live and the way you sleep. For example:
- Lose weight if you are overweight
- Sleep on your side and not your back
- Avoid alcohol and medicines such as sedatives before bed
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