Normal Breathing In people who do not snore or have apnea:
- The airway remains open during sleep.
- Air flows freely through the nose and mouth past the flexible structures in the throat and into the lungs.
- Muscles relax in the back of the throat narrowing the airway to a smaller opening.
- During breathing, air is forced through this smaller opening causing vibrations known as snoring.
- Although snoring may be harmless (benign snoring), Snoring can also be a sign of a more serious medical condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a disorder in which a person frequently stops breathing during his or her sleep. It results from an obstruction of the upper airway during sleep that occurs because of inadequate motor tone of the tongue and/or airway dilator muscles. OSA is a breathing disorder during sleep that has implications beyond disrupted sleep. It is increasingly recognized as an independent risk factor for cardiac, neurologic, and perioperative morbidities. Yet this disorder remains undiagnosed in a substantial portion of our population.
During an apnea event:
- During sleep there is a large decrease in muscle tone.
- The muscles in the throat relax and the tongue falls against the back of the throat blocking the airway.
- The entire upper airway is blocked causing air flow to stop.
- Oxygen cannot flow into the lungs.
- When oxygen level in the brain becomes dangerously low, the brain sends out a body wide alert to wake up and breath. The patient comes out of a deep sleep momentarily to clear the obstruction. The flow of air starts again – usually with a loud gasp or snort.
- People with untreated apnea are generally not aware of hundreds of nightly awakenings but only of being sleepy during the day. They are missing out on the rejuvenating effects of sleep.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a life threatening and life altering condition that causes a person to stop breathing repeatedly during sleep. The oxygen deprivation that results can trigger severe health problems. The restless sleep that also results from OSA affects the quality of life of individuals. The bed partner’s sleep can also be disrupted by his or her partner’s snoring, pauses in breathing and restless sleep.
Stop the death cycle of sleep apnea. Oxygen and sleep are vital components to your health. Visit our sleep apnea office at 3421 Burke Rd #1, Pasadena Texas 77504 or call us at 832-487-0647.