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I'm waking up tired and I'm just not sleeping well. So I think I'm going to get tested for sleep apnea.

That's a good idea because sleep apnea can lead to health problems. Sleep apnea literally means sleep without breath.In fact some people stop breathing hundreds of times a night and do so for more than a minute!

Try holding your breath for that long.

There are three types of apnea - obstructive, central and a combination of these two.

Obstructive apnea occurs when soft tissue in the throat literally collapses during sleep closing the airway. Central apnea is a central nervous system issue where the brain fails to "signal" muscles involved in breathing. Mixed apnea is a combination of these two forms. With all three the brain has to raise consciousness to stimulate breathing and that leads to poor quality sleep.

Of the nearly 12 million Americans suffering from these diseases - nearly all have obstructive sleep apnea. Unfortunately many people are undiagnosed and don't realize it can lead to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, memory and weight problems, impotency and headaches.

While the most common risk factors are being male, over 40 and overweight - obstructive sleep apnea can affect everyone including children. You can find out if you have it by spending a night at a sleep lab where everything from breathing, brain activity and muscle movements are measured.

The most common treatment is having patients sleep with a machine called continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP.

It comes with a mask you wear over your mouth and/or nose and the air pressure provided prevents the upper airway from collapsing. This keeps the person breathing while they sleep which generally solves the problem.

But the machine can take some getting used to.

Manufacturers are constantly developing more comfortable masks since most patients must use one for life.

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For more information…

The American Sleep Apnea Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing injury, disability, and death from sleep apnea and to enhancing the well-being of those affected by this common disorder. They provide information about the disorder and links to resources including free brochures and links to CPAP manufacturers.
For more information…

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute provides a Web-based health index that gives you a quick and easy way to get complete and dependable information about heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders including sleep apnea. They provide information about the causes, who is at risk, the signs and symptoms, the diagnosis, treatments and how to live with the disorder.
For more information…

MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news. They are an excellent source of information about sleep apnea.
For more information…

Stanford University has compiled an excellent web page with detailed information about sleep apnea. It includes extensive links to organizations and other resources.
For more information…


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