What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a common, yet often undiagnosed, sleep disorder that affects 1 in 5 people. When a person has OSA, they actually stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because their airway collapses. Most of the time, an individual with OSA is unaware that they stop breathing throughout the night. OSA is usually first recognized by a sleep partner who has witnessed snoring and breathing problems during the night. When a person has OSA, their muscles that control their upper airway relax too much, and their airway becomes blocked. These pauses may last for 10 seconds or more and can happen up to 30 times or more per hour. Airway collapses could be attributed to a large tongue, extra tissue in the airway, or decreased muscle tone that keeps the airway open. These factors can prevent air from getting into the lungs. You may find yourself waking up and gasping for air although usually if this happens you will not remember. These constant disturbances of healthy sleep can place stress on your brain and heart preventing you from getting a good night’s rest. Extreme fatigue can affect your work, relationships, memory and quality of life. OSA can be life threatening if left untreated.
Ignoring OSA could put you at risk for serious health problems such as:
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart Disease or Irregular Heart Rhythms
- Heart Attack
- Driving or Work-Related Accidents
- I have been told that I snore.
- I wake up at night gasping for air.
- I feel tired all the time.
- I often wake up in the morning with a headache.
- I am at least 20lbs. overweight.
- I have high blood pressure.
- I sweat a lot during the night.
- I wake up with my heart skipping beats.
- I can’t stay awake during the day.
- I have trouble concentrating.
- I’m irritable most or all of the time.
- My neck collar size is larger than 17 inches (male) or 16 inches (female).
- I have fallen asleep while driving.
- I have diabetes.
If 3 or more of these statements are true for you, then you may have Sleep Apnea. Contact your family Doctor to see about having a Sleep Study conducted.