What Is It?
Sleep apnea is a serious potentially life threatening condition.
- OSA is common (4% men / 2% women), about the same incidence as asthma.
- Characterized by repeated episodes of upper airway obstruction during sleep.
- Almost always associated with snoring, although not everyone who snores has OSA.
- Patients may experience choking. Bed partner may notice pauses in breathing (apneas).
- Frequent interruptions of sleep lead to excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Early recognition and treatment are important as OSA is associated with heart attacks,
hypertension, and stroke.
Who Gets It?
- More common in men
- Increased incidence with age
- People who snore
- People who are overweight
- Higher incidence in people with high blood pressure
How Is It Diagnosed?
- First need to suspect it; sleeping partners/spouses notice snoring with spells of
choking and pauses in breathing during sleep.
- Test called a Polysomnogram that records a variety of body functions during sleep, such
- Electrical activity of the brain
- Eye movements
- Muscle activity
- Heart rate
- Respiratory effort
- Blood oxygen levels
- Used to diagnose OSA and determine its severity, frequently can initiate therapy
during the test
How Is It Treated?
- Tailored to individual
- Behavioral - weight loss, avoid sedatives and alcohol, practice good sleep hygiene
- Physical or mechanical - nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
- Dental appliances, particularly if OSA is mild
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy work well in children
- Correction of nasal obstruction
- Procedures to advance the jaw and tongue forward
- UPPP - often combined with above; only approximately 50% success rate when done alone
- Tracheostomy - only for severe life-threatening apnea
- Research - How OSA affects and interacts with other medical conditions