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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA stands for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. It is a condition where breathing is repeatedly interrupted by airway collapse. It may be caused by extra tissue in the airway, large tongue, nasal obstruction or decreased muscle tone. This prevents air from moving freely in and out of your lungs. The blockage slows or stops the movement of air, and the amount of oxygen in your blood drops. The drop in oxygen causes the brain to send a signal for you to wake up so that you start breathing again. This cycle of not breathing and then waking up to breathe again may happen as often as 15 times per hour or more.

Normal airway vs. Sleep Apnea airway

Who are at risk?

  • Male gender

  • Being overweight/obese

  • Being over the age of forty

  • Having a large neck size (≥17 in in men and ≥16 in women)

  • Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone

  • Having a family history of sleep apnea

  • Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

What are the signs and symptoms?

  • Loud snoring                 

  • Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation

  • Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day

  • Sleepiness while driving

  • Waking up with a very sore and/or dry throat

  • Morning headaches

  • Forgetfulness, mood changes

  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia

How to Diagnose?

Through sleep study “polysomnogram”, it is a pain-free procedure that usually requires spending a night or two in a sleep facility. During the sleep study a sleep technologist records multiple biological functions during sleep, such as brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs. It provides data that is essential in evaluating sleep and sleep-related disorders.

What are the treatments?

I. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

You need a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine if a sleep study shows that you stop your breathing many times a night.

CPAP is the most effective treatment for OSA.

The CPAP machine can give you pressurized air through a mask that covers your nose or mouth and nose to open up your airways.

CPAP Therapy

What are the benefits of treatment?

  • You will have more restful sleep.

  • You will stop snoring or snore less.

  • You will be less tired during the day and lower your risk for accidents caused by sleepiness.

  • You may lower your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and diabetes.

  • You may lose weight

What are the effects of untreated Sleep Apnea?

If left untreated, sleep apnea can result in a growing number of health problems and in activities of daily living which include:

                                                      

  • High blood pressure

  • Stroke

  • Heart failure

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

  • Poor performance at work and school

  • Motor vehicle crashes

If you are prescribed with CPAP machine, use it every night. If you don't use it all night, every night, your symptoms will return right away.

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