About OSA

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep.

The Obstruction that causes you to stop breathing is the relaxation of muscles that control the tongue and soft palate, which blocks your airway. This causes a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood and an increase in CO2 levels which causes the individual to wake up subconsciously throughout the night. Many people aren’t aware that they have this problem, and think that they sleep well throughout the night. Only their bed partner will notice that they stop breathing or wake up to roll over constantly. As a result, the sleep pattern is disrupted, causing the individual to feel excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness.

Normal Open Airway

Partially Closed Airway

Closed Obstructive Airway


What are the Signs & Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

It can be tough to identify Sleep Apnea on your own, since the most prominent symptoms only occur when you’re asleep. But you can get around this difficulty by asking a bed partner to observe your sleep habits or recording yourself during sleep.

  • Snoring, with frequent pauses in breathing
  • Gasping or choking for air during sleep
  • Restless sleep or frequent wake ups
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness, or chronic fatigue
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability, and moody behavior
  • Memory loss
  • Morning headaches
  • Depression
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Frequent urination at night
  • Diabetes
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Obesity
  • Lack of energy and low performance at work
  • Heart conditions i.e. previous stroke, heart attack
  • Large neck size

Who Gets Sleep Apnea?

Research shows that up to 20% the population may have some form of treatable Obstructive Sleep Apnea. OSA can occur in people of all ages, including kids. Most of the CPAP population is predominantly Men, however the Women have been catching up in the recent years.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common disease. A recent analysis concluded that 1 in 5 American adults has at least mild OSA. That translates to 40 million people. About one-third of that number has moderate or severe Sleep Apnea. Having both sleepiness and OSA occurs less frequently. The undesirable consequences of OSA may occur whether or not a person recognizes himself of herself as being sleepy. Sleep Apnea is under-diagnosed. In a study of middle-aged men and women in the early-to-mid 1990s, all of whom had comprehensive health insurance, only 2% of the women and 10% of the men with Sleep Apnea had been previously diagnosed.

What Are The Causes Of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

When you’re awake, throat muscles help keep your airway stiff and open so air can flow into your lungs. When you sleep, these muscles are more relaxed. Normally, the relaxed throat muscles don’t prevent your airway from staying open to allow air into your lungs.

The major causes of OSA are mechanical or structural abnormalities in the airway such as:

  • Excessive tissue in the back of the airway
  • Large tonsils
  • Large and/or thick neck
  • Long neck, resulting in narrower airways
  • Decreased muscle tone holding the airways open
  • Large tongue

Other possible causes would be:

  • Obesity-resulting in an increased volume of tissue in the airway
  • Chronic alcoholics
  • Chronic sedative users

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) Treated?

The most common and effective treatment is CPAP Therapy. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.

CPAP works by providing a positive air pressure to the airway during sleep. This pushes against the tissues of the airway, splinting them open, and keeping them from collapsing. Breathing then becomes regular, the snoring stops, resulting in more restful sleep. Overall, you will feel more energetic, alert, and see an improvement in your quality of life.
Other less common treatments include oral appliances that can get very expensive and be very uncomfortable. Surgery is another option, however surgery can be very painful and is often a less popular choice. The soft tissue that is removed around the inside of your mouth during the UPPP surgery has a great tendency to grow back, thereby resulting in the return of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

What Happens If OSA Is Not Treated?

The consequences of Sleep Apnea range from both annoying to life threatening.

Symptoms range from depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, increased weight gain to learning and memory difficulties. You may find yourself falling asleep at work, on the phone or even while driving. In fact, untreated Sleep Apnea patients are 3 times more likely to have automobile accidents.

Other Risk Factors may include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart Attack
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic Fatigue Causing
  • A Motor Vehicle Accident
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Increased Weight Gain
  • Angina
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Increased Respiratory Rate

 

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