Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by a blockage in the patient's airway.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic syndrome or disease where sleeping people stop breathing for a brief period because airways are blocked. Due to not enough air getting into the lungs, carbon dioxide levels increase, and oxygen levels decrease.
The buildup of carbon dioxide becomes too high, and the brain detects this problem. The sleeping person briefly awakens to breathe. An interesting note, the sleeping patient, does not even know they are waking up. They begin to snort, snore, and gasp to catch their breath. The result is fragmented sleep and subsequent daytime sleepiness. Broken sleep causes fatigue, which tends to increase the risk for accidents.