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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when a person stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. Breathing stops because the airway collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs.
Sleep patterns are disrupted, resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.

What causes the airway to collapse during sleep?

  • Extra tissue in the back of the airway such as large tonsils.
  • Decrease in the tone of the muscles holding the airway open.
  • The tongue falling back and closing off the airway

How many people have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

4 in 100 middle-aged men and 2 in 100 middle-aged women have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Most OSA sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is as common as adult asthma.

What happens if Obstructive Sleep Apnea is not treated?

Possible increased risk for:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease and heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Fatigue-related motor related and work accidents
  • Decreased quality of life

What are the signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

If you or someone you know snores regularly and has one or more of the following symptoms, it may be Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Snoring, interrupted by pauses in breathing
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless Sleep
  • Excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day
  • Poor judgment or concentration
  • Irritability
  • Memory loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Large neck size (>17" in men; >16" in women)
  • Crowded airway
  • Morning headache
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Frequent urination at night

What should you do if you suspect you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

See your doctor; evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended.
Have a sleep study done; a sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.

What is the treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The most common treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), pronounced "see-PAP."

Other less common treatments include surgery and oral appliances, which may be effective in certain individuals. Any treatments should include weight loss if needed, exercise, and avoidance of alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotics

"It (CPAP therapy) helps you get control over your health. It just makes you feel better about yourself. Who doesn't want to be a happy family person? Who doesn't want to be a good employee?"

-- Dee S., Lafayette, L.A.

Courtesy of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (http://www.aasmnet.org)

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