What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea, or commonly known as OSA, is one of the most common sleep disorders where the patient has a complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway which can lead to reduction as well as the absence of breathing during sleep.

Over 12 million Americans have obstructive sleep apnea and 50% of them are overweight. Hence, the weight has a lot to do with OSA. This sleep disorder is mainly seen in Hispanics, African Americans, and Pacific Islanders. It is also mostly seen in men and women who have crossed menopause.

Many times, people may not be aware if they suffer from OSA as they may not be feeling any disturbance in breathing while sleeping, or even after awakening. Only their bed partner or someone in their family will be able to mention if they observe a person snoring or gasps or chokes while sleeping. Hence for those living alone, these symptoms may be present for many years without being identified and the person may even have got used to the feeling of being sleepy during the day due to lack of appropriate sleep in the night.

If OSA is left untreated, it can increase the risk for high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and obesity while also increasing irregular heartbeats, the risk of heart failure, irregular heartbeats and the risks during driving or work.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA or Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Sleeping more during the day or at work or during driving
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Not able to concentrate
  • Having a feeling of depression, irritability, mood swings and even change in personality
  • Dry throat after waking up
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • OSA can transmit through genes
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart-related diseases or heart failure
Treatment of OSA

There are many treatments that can be offered for someone suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

  • One of the first steps they can take is by avoiding alcohol and smoking.
  • Avoiding unnecessary medications to relax the central nervous system like taking sedatives or muscle relaxants
  • A weight loss program Weight loss overweight people
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and mandibular advancement devices also are useful during OSA
  • Go in for specific physical training to improve sleep apnea
  • There are also options of physical intervention, surgery, neurostimulation, radiofrequency ablation, medications, or use of oral appliances