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Home   »   Conditions  »  Sleep Disordered Breathing

Conditions: Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB)


Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB) is an umbrella term used to describe multiple conditions in which a person has irregular breathing patterns while sleeping. These conditions range from frequent, shallow breaths to complete pauses in breathing. Our expert team at Norelle Health’s Department of Sleep Medicine is specialized in diagnosing and treating various types of SDB, the most common of which is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

Types of Sleep-Disordered Breathing

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing due to the collapse of airway tissues.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Involves pauses in breathing due to lack of effort to breathe, usually because of a failure in the brain’s respiratory control center.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as Treatment-Emergent Central Sleep Apnea, it is a combination of OSA and CSA.
  • Hypopnea: Shallow breathing usually resulting in a drop in blood oxygen levels.
  • Cheyne-Stokes Respiration: A specific form of Central Sleep Apnea commonly seen in patients with heart failure.


Common symptoms across all types of SDB include:

  • Frequent awakenings or restless sleep
  • Loud snoring
  • Choking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood changes


Diagnosis typically begins with a detailed medical history and may include:

  • Polysomnography: A comprehensive overnight sleep study.
  • Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT): A simplified sleep study that can be conducted in the comfort of your own home.
  • Oximetry: A method for monitoring blood oxygen levels.
  • Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT): Measures the speed at which you fall asleep during the day, often used for diagnosing narcolepsy but can be informative in SDB cases as well.

Treatment Options

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP): Most commonly prescribed for OSA, CPAP machines deliver a steady flow of air to keep the airways open.
  • Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP): Similar to CPAP but provides more air when you inhale and less when you exhale.
  • Adaptive Servo-Ventilation (ASV): Used primarily for Central Sleep Apnea and Cheyne-Stokes Respiration.
  • Oral Appliances: Custom-fitted dental devices can reposition the jaw and tongue to improve airflow.
  • Surgical Options: Procedures like Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) and Genioglossus Advancement (GA) are considered for severe cases or when other treatments have failed.
  • Behavioral Therapy: Techniques such as positional therapy and weight loss programs may also be beneficial.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Sleep-Disordered Breathing the same as snoring?
No, snoring can be a symptom of SDB but not everyone who snores has an SDB condition. A proper diagnosis is required to distinguish between them.

Can Sleep-Disordered Breathing be cured?
While some types of SDB may be managed effectively through treatment, it is generally considered a chronic condition requiring long-term management.

Is it a serious condition?
Yes, untreated SDB can lead to a variety of health risks including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and increased likelihood of accidents due to fatigue.

Meet Norelle Health

Moustafa Mourad, MD, FACS is double board-certified in Head and Neck Surgery and Facial Plastic Surgery and Reconstruction. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a Member of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. He treats many conditions,... Learn More »