Sleep apnea is a common disorder that affects many people in the United States. It is characterized by episodes in which breathing stops and restarts multiple times during sleep, often resulting in a lack of restful sleep. The most common symptom of sleep apnea is when someone else notices that you have stopped breathing during sleep. Other symptoms include daytime fatigue, snoring, and difficulty concentrating.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the airway collapses or becomes blocked while you sleep. This can cause you to stop breathing for up to 30 seconds at a time, several times during the night. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is caused by a problem in the brain that prevents it from sending signals to keep the muscles related to breathing working. In some cases, sleep apnea can be prevented, especially if it is caused by being overweight or obese.
Treatment for OSA often involves lifestyle changes such as weight loss, avoiding alcohol and sleeping pills, and using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. Surgery may be recommended if these treatments don't work. For children, surgery to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be an option. Treatment for CSA often focuses on addressing the underlying medical condition that causes abnormal breathing.If you have symptoms of sleep apnea or are at risk for developing it, talk to your doctor about being tested for it before undergoing any major surgery.
It is important to let your doctor know if you have OSA or any related symptoms so they can take steps to ensure your safety during surgery.