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About sleep apnea
Aug, 09 2023
Why this condition causes your breathing to stop during sleep
Apnea means ‘without breath’.
Sleep apnea is therefore the name that describes a potentially serious condition that occurs when your breathing involuntarily stops and starts while you sleep.1-3
Untreated, this breathing irregularity can potentially happen hundreds of times a night. You may be unaware that you have the condition because you only partially wake up when your breathing stops.2,3
Normally, the muscles that comprise the upper airway help maintain their tone,
allowing them to remain open for the purpose of breathing while you sleep.2,3
When the airway muscles relax too much, the airway may narrow slightly or cause an obstruction. This often results in snoring – the noise generated by the vibrating soft or floppy parts of your throat (soft palate and uvula) as air passes through.2,3
While snoring does not severely reduce airflow while breathing, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) does.
With OSA, your upper airway is blocked by the soft tissue that collapses when the muscles in your throat relax during sleep. This full airway collapse, which completely stops airflow to your lungs, is known as an ‘apnea’. 1
A reduction in airflow caused by a partial airway collapse is called a ‘hypopnea’. 1
1 Dempsey JA, Veasey SC, Morgan BJ, O'Donnell CP. Pathophysiology of sleep apnea. Physiological reviews. 2010 Jan;90(1):47-112.
2 Horner RL. Pathophysiology of obstructive sleep apnea. Journal of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and prevention. 2008 Sep 1;28(5):289-98.
3 Patel SR. Obstructive sleep apnea. Annals of internal medicine. 2019 Dec 3;171(11):ITC81-96.
An overnight sleep study may shed light on your poor quality sleep
Use our checklist to determine whether you should be tested for the condition
Untreated, OSA can put considerable stress on your body
Find clinical evidence and practice guidelines for delivering nasal high flow (aka HFNC) therapy.
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