Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow during sleep. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs when your airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea can also often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.
The effects of sleep apnea
When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents and other medical problems. Research has shown that lack of oxygen during sleep can cause an increase in blood pressure, which can stress your heart and also increase your risk of developing diabetes. Sleep apnea may be an underlying cause of heart disease and can worsen existing cardiovascular disease.
You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, have small airways or have a family history of sleep apnea. Children with enlarged tonsils may also be susceptible.
Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute