How much do you know about the perils of sleep apnea?

John Miller

Sleep apnea is a common _____.

Sleep apnea is a very common sleep disorder. Its sometimes innocuous symptoms may be a harbinger of much more dangerous conditions.

What's one of the defining traits of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is often marked by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. In some cases, the condition is marked by very shallow breathing.

How many primary categories of sleep apnea are there?

There are three main categories of sleep apnea: central, obstructive and mixed (a combination of central and obstructive). All three have characteristics that your doctor can identify.

What's a consequence of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a frequent contributor to overtiredness. Many people who struggle with fatigue simply don't have any idea that they're experiencing sleep apnea.

What's a common observation of sleep apnea?

Many sufferers snore loudly, and then they stop breathing for a few moments, before repeating the sequence. For anyone observing the event, it can be unsettling or even scary.

How do many people first learn that they are struggling with sleep apnea?

It's often a family member that notices the problem. "Dad, why do you sound like you're dying when you're sleeping?"

What happens in obstructive sleep apnea?

In obstructive sleep apnea, there's a physical obstruction that causes the problem. It could be inflammation from allergies, swollen tonsils or even issues related to obesity.

Why are overweight people more susceptible to obstructive sleep apnea?

The extra weight on an obese person may weigh down the soft tissues of the throat, causing it to temporarily collapse during sleep. This is a type of obstructive sleep apnea.

Central sleep apnea is caused by _____.

In central sleep apnea, the brain mixes up signals for breathing. As a result, the muscles responsible for breathing don't work properly.

True or false, are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea equally common?

Obstructive sleep apnea (6 percent of the population) is far more common than central sleep apnea, which affects only about 1 percent of the population.

What's a potential consequence of sleep apnea?

There is a myriad of problems associated with sleep apnea, ranging from high blood pressure, depression, diabetes, worsening ADHD and much more. Sleep is important. If you don't rest, your mind and body suffer.

What is NOT a risk factor for sleep apnea?

Sorry, tiny hands aren't a risk factor. But if you're over 40, with a large neck, and with any sort of weight or allergy issues, your risk of apnea will go up quite a lot.

If you struggle with obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may tell you to sleep _____.

Obstructive sleep apnea is often worsened when the sufferer sleeps on his or her back. Side sleeping reduces symptoms in many people.

In order to diagnose sleep apnea, your doctor may order a polysomnogram, which is what?

A polysomnogram is a sleep study, in which you go to sleep at a medical facility so that doctors can observe your sleep.

With sleep apnea, the sufferer may wake up repeatedly with a ______ or ______ sensation.

It's not uncommon for sufferers to wake up with a choking or gasping sensation. So that nightmare you were having about not being able to breathe? It was based on something your body was truly experiencing.

What's a lifestyle change that's often necessary to improve the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Smoking and alcohol both tend to worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea. Your doctor may recommend that you reduce or eliminate these habits.

In sleep apnea, pauses in breathing may last for how long?

It's scary -- the pauses in breathing that happen in sleep apnea may last for several minutes. If you're in bed with a person who seems to stop breathing altogether, the effect is terrifying.

What happens during a sleep study?

In a sleep study, doctors attach electrodes to your head and then ask you to sleep. Several instruments will keep tabs on your body's functions as you rest. It's one of the best ways to diagnose sleep apnea.

Small children may experience sleep apnea, particularly if they have enlarged _____.

Children are prone to inflammation of the tonsils in the throat. In this situation, it's not uncommon for obstructive sleep apnea to result.

A CPAP machine is a common treatment for sleep apnea. What does CPAP stand far?

A CPAP is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine. It provides a constant flow of air through the nose and forces the airways open. The result is better breathing.

True or false, do sleeping pills combat sleep apnea?

Sleeping pills can actually make sleep apnea worse. Your doctor will probably say that you need to avoid these drugs to improve your apnea symptoms.

What's another potential treatment for sleep apnea?

Sometimes, dental devices can be inserted into the mouth to push the jaw forward during sleep. This, in turn, reduces obstructive sleep apnea.

Snoring typically DOES NOT happen with which type of sleep apnea?

Snoring is very common with obstructive sleep apnea. But in central sleep apnea, it's rarely a symptom.

If you often wake up with ______, you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Waking up with dry mouth and headaches? Those are two common signs that sleep apnea may be affecting your rest.

True or false, is surgery sometimes necessary for sleep apnea?

Surgery is sometimes on the table. For example, if your airways are naturally just too narrow for normal breathing, your doctor may use surgery to widen them.

Sleep apnea is found most often in ____.

Men are much more likely to suffer from the condition than women or children. It's especially common in Hispanic or African-American men.

True or false, eventually, do sleep apnea sufferers who sleep ALONE eventually realize their condition?

Sufferers almost never know they are dealing with sleep apnea because they don't typically wake up enough to witness the problem. It's almost always an observer who first notices the symptoms.

Sleep apnea can increase your risk of which problem?

Irregular sleep? High blood pressure? Sleep apnea definitely increases your risk of heart failure. And let's be clear about this -- heart failure is bad.

The Inspire treatment system is an implantable device for sleep apnea. What does it do?

The Inspire system is an implant that uses mild electrical pulses to keep your airway muscles contracted, and thus, your airways remain open. You breathe better, and sleep better, too.

What's a common consequence of sleep apnea?

If you don't sleep well, your life suffers. You might fall asleep at the wheel or lose your job. It's best to discuss any troubling signs with your doctor before things get worse.

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About This Quiz

It's an insidious health problem that can ruin your personal and professional life. But it's also treatable. How much do you know about the life-wrecking condition called sleep apnea?

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