Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a very common disorder that can be serious. It is characterized by snoring and stopping breathing during sleep. The word apnea is the Greek word for “no breath” and obesity is the main risk factor for OSA.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
OSA is one of the major causes of excessive daytime sleepiness. This can be especially important when it occurs while driving or while at the workplace. OSA is also associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure, and stroke.
In addition to the symptom of daytime sleepiness, patients with OSA may have morning headaches, heartburn, or frequent awakenings to urinate throughout the night.
How do you Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Diagnosis of OSA requires an overnight sleep study which will reveal the severity of sleep apnea. This is what correlates to excessive daytime sleepiness and high blood pressure. The blood oxygen level will also be analyzed which is what can lead to an increased risk of abnormal heart rhythms and heart attack. This study will guide your sleep medicine physician in making treatment decisions.
What is the Treatment for Sleep Apnea?
The most effective therapy for OSA is CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a mask that may go over your nose or in your nostrils in order to give you normal air at a higher pressure. This increased pressure provided by the device keeps your airway open, just as the increased pressure inside of a balloon keeps it from collapsing. For a majority of patients, weight loss can help to the point of no longer requiring treatment.