Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition involving repeated blockage of breathing in the throat during sleep. The throat is surrounded by soft tissues and muscles that relax during sleep, especially deep sleep. Muscle relaxation during sleep allows the muscles and soft tissues around the throat to flutter and cause snoring or to collapse and block the space for breathing, resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed with a sleep study, which can include a determination of the degree of sleep apnea, depending on how often the blockage of breathing is occurring during the sleep study.
If you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea and other risk factors, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes, you will have an increased risk of developing various health problems. These problems may include heart attack, stroke or diabetes.
If you have sleep apnea, you may show symptoms such as sleepiness, fatigue or decreased quality of life as a result of disrupted sleep. These symptoms are not related to the severity of obstructive sleep apnea, meaning that some people with mild sleep apnea might feel very tired, while some people with severe sleep apnea may not be tired at all.