Sleep apnea is characterized by the absence of breathing for short periods during sleep. There are several types but the most common is due to upper airway obstruction, resulting in frequent waking and daytime tiredness. Snoring often accompanies this disorder. Daytime sleepiness is often the only symptom since many patients don't realize they are waking at night. Diagnosis is usually made at a sleep disorders clinic. A device to assist with breathing during the night will often alleviate the symptoms. This disorder can often occur in older, adult males and may be associated with overweight.
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The Pickwickian syndrome, also known as obesity hypoventilation syndrome, is the combination of severe obesity, suffering from obstructive sleep apnea causing hypoxia and hypercapnia resulting in marked daytime somnolence. Although it is an eponym, it is not named after the doctor who first described it (as commonly happens) but after a literary character by Charles Dickens.
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