When a person has sleep apnea, their breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and restless sleep.
Most people with sleep apnea have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This happens when there is a physical blockage in the upper airway. Another type, central sleep apnea (CSA), is due to a signaling problem in the nervous system.
When the airway closes, or the signal is held up, the person will stop breathing. This will happen temporarily but repeatedly during sleep. When they breathe again, they may snort, take a deep breath, or awaken completely with a sensation of gasping, smothering, or choking.\
Untreated sleep apnea may lead to complications such as heart disease and depression. It can also leave a person feeling drowsy, increasing the risk of accidents while driving or working.
Here, learn more about the symptoms, causes, when to see a doctor, and treatment options.