Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea ( a.k.a. O.S.A, Sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing) is one of the most common Sleep Disorders in the U.S.

Special mention should be made regarding Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or more generally referring to as Sleep-Disordered Breathing.  During sleep, all you muscles relax and this include the muscles of the throat such as the tongue, soft palate and back wall of the throat.  While lying down, either on your back or your sides, gravity can pull these relaxed, floppy tissues backwards, narrowing the throat.  When your breathing in and the air has to pass thru this narrowing, it may vibrate the tissues and snoring is produced.  So what?  Besides bothering a bedpartner, imagine if you’re not moving enough air to keep up with the body’s oxygen demand.  Or worse yet, what if there is so much narrowing that the throat collapses on itself?!  That’s sleep apnea.

Fortunately, the brain protects you by detecting the problem after a few seconds and stirs you, not enough to wake up and know that it happened, but enough to return the muscle tone and “pop open” the throat.  Problem solved…until you fade back to deeper sleep, the muscles relax again and the narrowing occurs again.  This can happen repeatedly all night long.  And you don’t know it!!  All you do know is upon waking up in the morning, you’re tired and feel fatigue all day.  This is NOT normal and NOT acceptable.  One should seek help and your Board-Certified Sleep physicians at PCCS are here to help.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea FAQs

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea or O.S.A. is a condition characterized by recurrent upper airway (throat) collapse.  This is either partial or complete with associated sleep disruption and low oxygen levels.

What causes obstructive sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is associated with obesity and/or anatomic anomalies of the mouth or throat.

Sleep apnea is also associated with hypertension, congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease.

What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?

Snoring, choking during sleep, witnessed pauses or gaps in breathing, daytime sleepiness, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, or even irritability and depression.

How is obstructive sleep apnea diagnosed?

Diagnosis almost always requires a polysomnogram or sleep study.  Typically these are done in a sleep lab.  Such a facility has several sleep rooms (which look like hotel rooms).  They patient reports to the lab in the evening, where monitoring equipment (wires) are attached to the patient.  The patient then goes to sleep and is monitored throughout the night.  Sometimes if the patient meets the criteria of sleep apnea, the technician will use and titrate continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP).

How is obstructive sleep apnea treated?

Treatment of OSA is usually treated with CPAP therapy.  CPAP is a small breathing device which generates airflow (not oxygen) under pressure.  The patient wears a mask which is connected to the CPAP with a tube.  By supplying air pressure through the nose to the throat, the throat the patient is able to breathe freely, eliminating the OSA.  Some benefits of CPAP therapy include a more refreshing level of sleep, more energy and less fatigue during the day, and decreased risk of cardiac disease.

What can I expect on my first visit to PCCS?

A full medical history will be taken and a physical exam will be done.  If a polysomnogram has not been done already, one will be scheduled at a certified sleep lab.

***Please be advised that if sleep apnea is suspected, driving or operating heavy machinery is not recommended until this condition has been adequately treated.

Schedule a Sleep Consultation

For more on forming Healthy Sleep Habits, view our Sleep Hygiene Tips

To schedule a consultation with one of our sleep specialists, call PCCS at 713-255-4000