Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much to allow normal breathing. These muscles support structures including the back of the roof of your mouth (soft palate), the triangular piece of tissue hanging from the soft palate (uvula), the tonsils and the tongue.


  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, which occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea


  • loud snoring
  • gasping
  • choking
  • snorting
  • interruptions in breathing while sleeping
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake
  • Irritability


  • obesity
  • large tonsils
  • men with a collar size of 17 inches or more
  • women with a collar size of 16 inches or more
  • a large tongue, which can block the airway
  • a narrow palate or airway that collapses more easily
  • smoking
  • family history of OSA


  • Weight management and exercise are usually recommended for people with OSA who also have obesity.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure is the first line of treatment for OSA. It is administered through a face mask worn at night.
  • Bilevel positive airway pressure are sometimes used for the treatment of OSA if CPAP therapy is not effective.
  • Surgical treatment may be the most effective for people who have OSA due to a severe, surgically correctable, obstructing lesion of the upper airway.


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