Penn Medicine’s Sleep Apnea Program specializes in treating individuals that suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea refers to interruptions in breathing during sleep that can range from mild, moderate to severe. Depending upon the severity, sleep apnea can negatively impact your health causing you to feel fatigued in the morning after you wake up and throughout the course of your day.

Sleep Apnea Types

Penn Medicine sleep specialists and otorhinolaryngologists work together to treat the full range of sleep apnea conditions, including:

man sleeping

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that interrupts normal breathing during sleep. When the soft tissues of the throat collapse on inhalation during sleep, the lack of oxygen to the lungs can cause serious health problems. Individuals with OSA have either partial or complete obstruction of their upper airway. They will usually experience loud snoring, choking or gasping and insomnia. The disruption in breathing can result in a decrease of oxygen that is delivered to the body’s tissues, which in turn can cause long-term damage to vital organs. 
  • Positional obstructive sleep apnea: Positional OSA refers to individuals who experience sleep apnea when sleeping on their back (supine position). Breathing may return to normal when laying on their side.
  • REM related obstructive sleep apnea: REM related sleep apnea refers to OSA that occurs predominately during REM sleep. Research has shown there is a correlation between REM related sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.

    Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

    There a numerous risk factors that may contribute to OSA, including:

    • A family history of sleep apnea
    • Asthma
    • Chronic nasal congestion
    • Diabetes
    • Excess weight: (not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight, but it can be a contributing factor)
    • Males (males are twice as likely to be affected by sleep apnea)
    • Narrowed airway: possibly caused by large tonsils and adenoids or a patient may naturally have a narrow airway
    • High blood pressure (hypertension)
    • Smoking

In This Section

Sleep Apnea Conditions

Sleep apnea usually is a chronic (ongoing) condition that disrupts your sleep. Learn about the types of symptoms that can cause sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Evaluation

Penn otorhinolaryngologists and sleep medicine physicians evaluate patients for sleep apnea using the latest diagnostic tools and techniques.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

The Penn Sleep Apnea Program offers the most advanced sleep medicine and surgical treatment techniques available for mild, moderate and severe sleep apnea.

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