Facts About Sleep Disordered Breathing
• Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

• Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep 3 or more nights each week.

• Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can't detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, there are no blood tests for the condition. Most people who have sleep apnea don't know they have it because it only occurs during sleep.

• The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. This most often means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. This may cause shallow breathing or breathing pauses.

• Sleep apnea can cause daytime sleepiness, increase the risk for or worsen some medical conditions, and increase the chance of having a work- or driving-related accident.

• It's estimated that more than 12 million American adults have sleep apnea. More than half of the people who have this condition are overweight.

• The most common signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring and choking or gasping during sleep and being very sleepy during the day.

• Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and results from sleep studies.

• Treatment is aimed at restoring regular breathing during sleep and relieving symptoms. Treatment also may help other medical problems linked to sleep apnea.

• Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, breathing devices, and/or surgery are used to treat sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.

• Sleep apnea can be very serious. However, following an effective treatment plan can often improve your quality of life quite a bit. Follow up with your doctor regularly to make sure your treatment is working. Tell him or her if the treatment causes side effects that you can't handle.

• Family members can help a person who snores loudly or stops breathing during sleep by encouraging him or her to get medical help.

• Treatment may improve your overall health and happiness as well as your quality of sleep (and possibly your family's quality of sleep).

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