What is Sleep Apnea?

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The term sleep apnea is tossed around regularly by doctors, dentists, and others. It is talked about so regularly in some circles that many people feel uncomfortable even asking the question, “What is sleep apnea?” We will answer this rather straight forward question here.

At its root, sleep apnea means that the sufferer stops breathing at least five times per hour during sleep. The stoppage can occur for just a few seconds to minutes. This can be caused one of two ways: a physical blockage of the airway (called obstructive sleep apnea) or a failure of the brain to send the proper signals to keep breathing (called central sleep apnea). Sufferers may also have complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of the two.

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and treatment involves keeping the airway open. Our Torrance sleep apnea expert can do this with the aid of a oral appliance that fits into the mouth to keep the jaw slightly forward and the tongue positioned to best allow air to pass properly. But more extreme cases likely require a machine to force air into the lungs, called positive airway pressure.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that should be addressed immediately if you think you might have it. The reason for its seriousness is because when sufferers fail to breath properly, carbon dioxide builds up in the blood stream because it’s not being replaced by enough oxygen. This has far-reaching medical and daily consequences.


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