What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in which your breathing temporarily stops during sleep due to the blockage of the upper airways. These pauses in breathing interrupt your sleep, leading to many awakenings each hour. While most people with sleep apnea don’t remember these awakenings, they might feel exhausted during the day, irritable and depressed, or see a decrease in productivity.

Sleep apnea is a serious, and potentially life-threatening, sleep disorder. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have sleep apnea, see a doctor right away. Sleep apnea can be successfully treated with Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a mask-like device that delivers a stream of air while you sleep. Losing weight, elevating the head of the bed, and sleeping on your side can also help in cases of mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Frequent pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Gasping, snorting, or choking during sleep
  • Feeling exhausted after waking and sleepy during the day, no matter how much time you spent in bed.
  • Waking up with shortness of breath, chest pains, headaches, nasal congestion, or a dry throat.

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