Michigan Lung and Critical Care MLCC sleep lab Grand Blanc Sleep Apnea Gregory Streff Mark Rittenger Pradeep Ramachandran

Sleep Apnea

sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person either stops breathing completely or has shallow breathing that causes a drop in blood-oxygen level during sleep.

Causes, incidence & risk factors

  • There are 3 kinds of sleep apnea, obstructive, central and mixed.
  • Obstructive sleep apnea: breathing stops as a result of collapse of the airway. Airway collapse can be caused by several factors including excessive tissue at the back of the throat (enlarged tonsils), the tongue falling backwards into the throat and weakness in the muscles in the airway.
  • Central sleep apnea: breathing stops as a result of a complication in the central nervous system.
  • Mixed sleep apnea: breathing stops as a result of a combination of obstruction and central nervous system complication.
  • Risk of sleep apnea increases with:
    • Being overweight
    • Family history of sleep apnea
    • Body habitus (persons with a large neck circumference, recessed chin or abnormal structures of the upper airway are at increased risk of having sleep apnea)
    • Smoking
    • Use of alcohol or sedating drugs
    • African-American, Pacific Islander or Mexican descent
    • Acid reflux
    • Facial cranial abnormalities


  • Snoring
  • Waking up frequently during the night
  • Not feeling rested from sleep
  • Falling asleep easily in the early evening
  • Headaches upon awakening in the morning
  • Decreased memory and concentration
  • Leg Edema

Sleep apnea can only be diagnosed with a nocturnal polysomnography (sleep study). For this test, you spend a night a sleep lab and they monitor your breathing (in addition to other things) while you sleep to determine if you stop breathing.

Currently there are no medications that have been proven effective for the treatment of sleep apnea. At this time, CPAP therapy (treatment with a mask that delivers continuous positive airway pressure to the airway while you sleep) is the most effective and least invasive treatment option for sleep apnea. Surgery is sometimes needed for severe cases that do not respond to CPAP therapy.

Complications of Not Breathing

  • Hypertension
  • Atrial Flutter
  • Heart Failure
  • Sudden Death
  • Stroke                                   
  • Impotency                                                            
  • Depression 
  • Memory Problems
  • Car Accident 
  • GERD
  • Kidney Failure
  • Pulmonary Hypertension




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