Besides the sound of your house being sawed in half, what happens when you snore? Your tongue’s so relaxed it caves in to the throat, blocking air passages. In rare cases, when snoring goes ballistic, sleep apnea is the diagnosis.
The Greek word apnea literally means without breath. Three types of apnea exist: obstructive, central and mixed. Despite their differences in root causes, in all three, people with untreated apnea stop breathing repeatedly—sometimes hundreds of times a night for a minute or more.
In fact, a recent Mayo Clinic study found people who have obstructive sleep apnea have a higher risk of sudden cardiac death while asleep at night, a time typically not considered risky.
Sleep apnea is very common (as common as adult diabetes) and affects more than 12 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health. Are you overweight and over 40? You can be at risk. Yet sleep apnea can strike anyone, even children.
Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, memory problems, weight gain, and headaches. But fortunately, it can be diagnosed and treated. You (or your spouse) need only listen for the symptoms!