Health & Spirit

Taking a break from sleep apnea, but not the regulations, please!

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

Walruses groan, hogs grunt, tigers snarl. But those guttural noises can't compare to the heart-stopping, brain-dinging, sleep-robbing snorts, gasps and snores that humans with sleep apnea emit.

Sleep apnea -- interruptions to breathing while asleep, lasting 10 or more seconds -- is triggered when soft tissue in the back of the throat blocks airflow, by irregularities in the brain's breathing instructions, or by both. Twenty-five million Americans have SA. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol and taking muscle relaxants/sedatives, but even children can have it.

SA causes daytime fatigue, forgetfulness and mood changes. Untreated, it can be life-threatening -- to both the person with SA and others. People with SA often fall asleep at inappropriate times and are at risk for ministrokes, plus cardiovascular and cognitive problems.

And now federal agencies declare that they're not going to require SA testing for truck drivers and train operators, putting lives at risk. The NTSB considers SA the probable cause of 10 deadly highway and rail accidents that it's investigated since 2000.

SA usually is managed by eliminating risk factors and/or keeping airways open when you sleep by using an oral appliance or a mask delivering positive airway pressure. If that doesn't work, there's the device newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration that uses implanted electrodes and a remote control to stop the muscles in the back of your throat from obstructing airflow. Occasionally, airway-widening surgery is needed.

So, for your health, your bedmate and travelers on roads and rails, if you think you have SA, pledge to Stop the Snore (, and see your doctor pronto!



Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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