Definition of Apnea, obstructive sleep
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive.
Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common than central sleep apnea. In obstructive sleep apnea, the throat collapses during sleep causing the individual to snort and gasp for breath. Hundreds of these episodes can occur every night causing daytime sleepiness and, it is thought, increasing the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure) and heart problems.
A tracheostomy -- in which an incision is made in the throat so a tube can bypass the obstruction and deliver air to the lungs -- can be done for extreme cases of sleep apnea but leaves a wide-open hole in the throat. The same amount of air can now be delivered through a tiny incision in the throat -- a mini-tracheostomy -- using a tiny tube that senses patients' breathing patterns and adjusts the amount of air it sends to the throat.There are other, less invasive treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, most commonly CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. It is administered with a mask of the nose or over the nose and mouth, that applies pressure to prevent the upper airway from closing.
Last Editorial Review: 9/20/2012
Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Need help identifying pills and medications?