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Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is also called obstructive sleep apnea. It is a condition that causes you to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more while you are sleeping. During normal sleep, your throat is kept open by muscles that let air pass through easily. Sleep apnea causes the muscles and tissues around your throat to relax and block air from passing through. Sleep apnea may happen many times while you are asleep.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • An EKG test records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats.
  • An endoscopy is a test that uses a scope to look at the inside of your throat. A scope is made of a long, bendable tube with a light on the end of it. A camera may be hooked to the scope to take pictures. During an endoscopy, healthcare providers may see if there are any problems in your throat causing your sleep apnea.
  • Overnight oximetry is a test that uses a device called a pulse oximeter. The device will monitor how much oxygen is in your blood throughout the night while you sleep. A wire from the device will be attached to your ear, finger, or toe with a clip or sticky tape.
  • Sleep studies are also called polysomnography. They can help healthcare providers see how your brain, heart, and respiratory system are working during sleep. Sleep studies may monitor the stages of sleep, oxygen levels, body position, eye movement, and snoring.
  • X-rays of your skull, jaw, or teeth may be taken. X-rays may show what is causing your sleep apnea.


  • A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is used to keep your airway open during sleep. A mask is placed over your nose and mouth, or just your nose. The mask is hooked to the CPAP machine. The CPAP blows a gentle stream of air into the mask when you breathe. This helps keep your airway open so you can breathe more regularly. Extra oxygen may be given to you through the machine.
  • A mouth device may be recommended by your healthcare provider. The device looks like a mouth guard or dental retainer. It stops your tongue and mouth tissues from blocking your throat while you sleep.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove extra tissues that block your mouth, throat, or nose.


Left untreated, sleep apnea can become life-threatening. You are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, or depression. Your risk for a heart attack, heart failure, or stroke is also increased. Lack of sleep may cause concentration, coordination, or memory problems.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.