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Some Facts on Sleep Apnea

Updated on April 19, 2011

Sleep apnea (AP-ne-ah) may not be quite a common term to some people out there. The term is used to represent a common sleeping disorder that causes people to pause their breathing once or more times or experience shallow breaths during the time they are sleeping.

These pauses of breathing can usually last for a few seconds or even for minutes. Most of the time, it takes time 5 up to 30 times within a single hour. Afterwards, the breathing would be normal again with occasional choking or snort sound.

Sleep apnea is pretty annoying as it disturbs people’s sleep and causes them to be unable to take a deep sleep after their breathing has paused or after they have experienced shallow breaths. As a result, people suffering from this sleeping disorder will experience excessive sleepiness during the daytime as their sleep quality is not enough.


Unfortunately, until now, doctors seem to be unable to diagnose if a person really suffers from sleep apnea. There aren’t any known blood tests, either, that may reveal about such a disorder. That said, sleep apnea is usually known only by those who suffer from it and by their bed partner or other family members that may notice the disorder in the first place.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common one to happen. This blocks or even collapses the airway while people are asleep. This is what leads to paused or shallow breaths. When the sufferers attempt to breathe, they will normally give out a loud snoring sound. This is due to the air that tries to squeeze through the blockage. Obstructive sleep apnea usually happens to people with excessive weight but this does not necessarily mean it cannot affect others. As a matter of fact, even a kid may have obstructive sleep apnea due to the enlarged tonsil tissues residing inside their throats.

The process that triggers obstructive sleep apnea can be seen from the following animation. To play it, just click on the Start button. There are also explanations, both oral and written. To either restart, pause, or replay the animation, simply click on the corresponding buttons on the lower right hand corner. To move among frames, use the scroll bar located below.

The animation also reflects how sleep apnea can possibly occur due to the air that heads to the lungs getting blocked.

Central sleep apnea is another type of sleep apnea yet it is less common compared to the first one. This only takes place in case the brain is no longer delivering proper breathing signals to the muscles that take care of the breathing process. This often leads to the disability to breathe for a certain period of time, usually a pretty brief period.

Central sleep apnea tends to happen more to those that suffer from certain physical conditions or those that depend on particular medications. However, it can also happen on everybody else. And while it normally happens along with obstructive sleep apnea, there are also chances it can happen on its own.

© 2011 Richie Setiawan. All rights reserved worldwide.


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