The dangers of Sleep Apnea

Why you may not want to 'ignore the snore'

SAN ANTONIO – Sleep apnea can leave you breathless while you sleep. There are two types of the disorder: Central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

Amanda Brosnan, a physician's assistant with the University Health System, says central sleep apnea is less common.

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"It's where the brain is actually telling you to stop breathing," Brosnan explained. 

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissues in the back of the throat collapse. The airway becomes blocked, leading the patient to snore or even gasp for air. The condition can also keep the patient from reaching a deep and restful sleep. 

Sleep apnea impacts millions of people in the United States and the city of San Antonio is not immune. 

Brosnan said within the University Health System, "we actually have close to 500 people waiting to be seen in the sleep clinic through referrals within the system."

Sleep apnea can also impact other aspects of a person's health if the problem is not treated. The condition can place stress on the patient's heart and may set them up for a heart attack or stroke. Brosnan says there is also a link between obesity and sleep apnea. The disorder can also impact patients with diabetes. 

"As your body is more stressed as it's sleeping, your sugar levels can rise. So that can contribute to worsening diabetes," Brosnan said. 

There are several treatments for sleep apnea. A CPAP or a BiPAP are the treatments most often used. A sleep study can help determine if someone has sleep apnea or if they just have a snore. 


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