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Frequently Asked Questions
Sleep Apnea

Sleep Apnea
What is Sleep Apnea?
How do I know if I have it?

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is defined as the cessation of breathing during sleep.

Apnea specialists generally agree that there are three different types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of these three, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common; central sleep apnoea is rare; mixed sleep apnea is a combination of the previous two with treatment being the same as OSA.

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How do I know if I have it?

One of the best people to help you answer this question is your bed partner. People with sleep apnoea generally have the following symptoms:

Loud, frequent snoring
The pattern of snoring is associated with episodes of silence that may last from 10 seconds to as long as a minute or more. The end of an apnoea episode is often associated with loud snores, gasps, moans, and mumblings. Not everyone who snores has apnoea, by any means, and not everyone with apnoea necessarily snores (though most do). This is probably the best and most obvious indicator.

Your bedmate indicates that you periodically stop breathing during your sleep, or gasp for breath

Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue:
Falling asleep when you don't intend to. This could be almost anytime you are sitting down, such as during a lecture, while watching TV, while sitting at a desk, and even while driving a car. Ask yourself, "Did I used to be able to (read, drive, watch TV) for longer periods of time without falling asleep?" If the answer is yes, you may have sleep apnoea or another sleep disorder. Even if you don't literally fall asleep, excessive fatigue (that is, you got plenty of sleep and you're still really tired) could be an indicator.

Unrefreshing sleep with feelings of grogginess, dullness, morning headaches, severe dryness of the mouth.

Body movements often accompany the awakenings at the end of each apnoea episode, and this, together with the loud snoring, will disrupt the bed partner's sleep and often cause her/him to move to a separate bed or room.

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