What Is OSA?
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a very common but potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which your breathing is interrupted (apneas) for periods of time during your sleep. There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is the blockage or obstruction of your airway, usually caused by the relaxation of the muscles and soft tissues of the throat. These blockages of the airway can compromise your sleep, have you feeling fatigued and potentially put your health at risk.
Common Signs and Symptoms of OSA:
- Daytime fatigue (drowsiness)
- Witnessed periods of time, not breathing
- Abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath or gasping for air
- Rapid heart rate
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat and/or dry mouth upon wakening
- Irritability/changes in mood and mental health
- Falling asleep at work or driving a vehicle
- Decrease in blood oxygen saturation
Common Risk Factors/Comorbidities of OSA:
Certain factors can put you more at risk of having/developing obstructive sleep apnea.
Please try our “Liberty Sleep Quiz" to see if obstructive sleep apnea could be disrupting your sleep
- Obesity – Individuals who are overweight (BMI > 25) or obese (BMI > 30) are at higher risk of hypoventilation issues.
- Gender – Men are twice as likely to develop OSA.
- Neck Circumference – The larger the neck circumference, the more weight of tissue around the airway.
- Age – OSA is more common in older populations.
- Family History – If other family members have sleep apnea, you are at a higher risk of developing OSA.
- Diabetes – OSA alters glucose metabolism and promotes insulin resistance.
- Hypertension – High blood pressure/hypertension is common in individuals with OSA.
- Smoking – Those who smoke are at a higher risk of developing OSA symptoms.
- Use of Alcohol, or Sedatives – These substances relax the muscles around the airway, increasing the risk of your airway being obstructed during sleep.
How Are You Diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Your doctor or nurse practitioner may recommend that you get tested for sleep apnea and recommended to a sleep lab or clinic. A Respiratory Therapist will get you set up with an at-home sleep recorder which will test and record your breathing, oxygen levels, snoring and other body functions throughout the night. This full recording is read by a Respirologist who will confirm if obstructive sleep apnea is the cause and how severe it is.
At this point, a Respiratory Therapist will work hand-in-hand with you and your doctor to provide you with the necessary help to eliminate your apneas and get you the sleep you deserve.
Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The gold standard in treating obstructive sleep apnea is the use of Positive Airway Pressure (PAP). By applying positive airway pressure, the airway is opened, allowing you to breathe freely and minimize your apneas and your snoring.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) devices provide you with constant pressurized air, helping to keep your airway open throughout the night. This treatment will also help decrease other negative health risks associated with untreated OSA.
APAP (Automatic Positive Airway Pressure) devices allow a range of pressurized air, helping to keep your airway open throughout the night. This treatment will also help decrease other negative health risks associated with untreated OSA.