Obstructive Sleep Apnea
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder defined as the unconscious stoppage of breathing for short periods of time throughout a night’s sleep. With OSA, there is a soft tissue obstruction of the upper airway, which negatively impacts the flow of air.
Pauses in breathing can be just a few seconds to minutes, and occur as little as five to as many as 30 times per hour. OSA is further characterized as a partial reduction (hypopnea) to complete pauses (apnea) in breathing that can last longer than 10 seconds. Depending upon the number of times per hour these episodes are experienced during the course of a night, the severity is classified as mild, moderate or severe.
Regardless of the severity of OSA, airflow and breathing are negatively impacted. With no or little air freely flowing to the lungs, there is a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood. Therefore, if not diagnosed or treated, it comes as no surprise that OSA is a debilitating and life-shortening condition that can impact a person’s life.
Although men may be at a slightly higher risk, both genders can develop OSA. Despite the fact that OSA seems to be more prevalent as we age, children can also develop the problem.
Know Your RISK
If OSA is not treated, expect to experience disrupted sleep and fatigue, which will wreak havoc on your life day in and day out. What few may realize is that the risk for other health issues skyrockets as well.
Did you know that OSA…
- Increases the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack by two to three times?
- Is associated with obesity, smoking and diabetes?
- Elevates blood pressure and can cause coronary artery disease, heart rhythm issues and even failure?
- Is currently undiagnosed in 8 out of every 10 people?
What are the Indicators
The following are some of the classic indicators found in people who suffer from OSA:
- Neck circumference of greater than 17 inches
- Intense snoring
- Daytime sleepiness and excessive fatigue
- Poor concentration
- High blood pressure
- Family history