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Sleep Apnea



Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

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Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which your breathing periodically stops or gets shallow for brief periods while you sleep. Apnea is the Greek word for "lack of breath."

Your sleep is not restful because you may experience brief drops in your oxygen levels of the blood and you move out of deep sleep into light sleep several times during the night. Sleep apnea also puts you at higher risk of having high blood pressure, diabetes, and work-related or driving accidents.

The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. During sleep, enough air cannot flow into your lungs through your mouth and nose, even though you try to breathe. Normal breaths re-start with a loud snort or choking sound. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services reports that 12 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea. More than half of them are overweight and most snore heavily. Children also may be affected by this disorder.

To diagnose sleep apnea, a physician performs a physical exam and takes a complete medical history, including questions about your family since the condition appears to occur in families. You also may be asked to have a sleep recording, which is a test that records what happens with your breathing while you sleep. The most common of these procedures is a polysomnogram (PSG).

Treatment is aimed at restoring regular breathing during sleep and relieving symptoms such as very loud snoring and sleepiness during the day. Depending on the severity or your condition, your physician may recommend lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, or the use of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), a mask worn over your nose during sleep that blows air into your throat at a pressure level right for you. Surgery also may be indicated.

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