Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder. It causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start during sleep.

There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles intermittently relax and block your airway during sleep. A noticeable sign of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring.

Treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available. One treatment involves using a device that keep your airway open while you sleep. Another option is a mouthpiece to thrust your jaw forward during sleep. In more severe cases, surgery may be an option too.

If you have any of the following symptoms or medical problems, a sleep study may be helpful


Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring that disturbs others
  • Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty concentrating during the day
  • Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Decreased libido
  • Waking up gasping or choking
  • Intermittent pauses in your breathing during sleep
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness, which may cause you to fall asleep while you’re working, watching television or even driving a vehicle

Medical problems that may be related to a sleep disorder:

  • Hypertension
  • History of stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heart disease
  • Mood disorders
  • Asthma/COPD
  • Seizures
  • GERD
  • Heart rhythm problems
  • Chronic pain
  • Obesity

Northway Family Healthcare, in association with Anchorage Sleep Center, offers sleep studies for patients in Ketchikan.