Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. OSA is caused by an obstruction in the upper part of the airway, usually the throat, which disrupts airflow into and out of the lungs. OSA can result in a decrease in oxygen saturation, potentially leading to heart and other health problems. It is estimated that OSA affects approximately 18 million adults in the United States.

Symptoms Of OSA

Common symptoms of OSA include snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and episodes of not being able to breathe. It is also possible for people to experience a decrease in their quality of life, irritability, depression, and other physical and mental health issues.

Diagnosis And Treatment Of OSA

If someone is experiencing symptoms of OSA, they should visit a doctor for a full evaluation. Diagnosis typically requires a sleep study. Treatment for OSA may involve lifestyle changes to help improve sleep quality, such as avoiding alcohol and other depressants before bedtime. In more severe cases, a doctor may recommend a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device or a surgical intervention.

Risk Factors For OSA

Risk factors for OSA include being male, older than 40, obese, having large tonsils, having a large tongue, having a narrow airway in the throat, or having a family history of the disorder. Additionally, individuals who smoke, take sedatives or muscle relaxants, or suffer from allergies or asthma may be at increased risk for OSA.

Complications Of OSA

Untreated OSA can lead to a variety of complications, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even depression and anxiety. Additionally, long-term OSA can increase the risk of accidental death. It is therefore important to seek treatment as soon as possible if you think you may be suffering from OSA.

Lifestyle Changes To Improve OSA

To help reduce the symptoms of OSA, try to adhere to the following lifestyle changes:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight
  • Avoid smoking and alcohol
  • Maintain regular sleep patterns
  • Reduce triggers for allergies
  • Keep bedroom cool and well ventilated
  • Sleep on your side rather than your back
  • Use a CPAP or other forms of sleep apnea therapy