Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder in which the airway collapses part or all of the way when you are sleeping. This causes you to temporarily stop breathing and the result is a cycle of dozing and waking that goes on all night and leaves you feeling tired instead of refreshed when you get up.
If you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you may have OSA:
Are you tired during the day, even after sleeping all night?
Do you fall asleep during the day when you don’t mean to?
Has your bed partner noticed that you snore loudly or make choking noises when you sleep?
The cycle of waking over and over again when your airway collapses and your breathing stops can cause such health conditions as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
You are at increased risk for OSA if you are*
- A male with a neck size of 17 inches or larger
- A female with a neck size of 16 inches or larger
- A male over the age of 40
- A female over the age of 50
*Note that not all people with OSA have risk factors. Children can have OSA as a result of large tonsils or narrow airways. Young adults, even those who are physically fit, can have OSA.
Diagnosis and treatment
OSA is completely treatable. Talk to your primary care provider about a sleep evaluation, which can be done at home or in a sleep center like the one we have at Windham Hospital. During the evaluation, your breathing and the oxygen level in your blood will be measured while you sleep. The results will help make a diagnosis.
The most common treatment for OSA, from mild to severe, is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy. There are different types of PAP therapy, but all help by keeping the airway open by providing a stream of air through a mask worn while you sleep. The air stream is set to a specific level of pressure, based on your needs, and prevents your airway from closing so you do not stop breathing and wake up.
Other treatments that might reduce or eliminate your OSA include:
- Losing weight
- Oral appliances worn while you sleep
- Surgery to reduce the tissue in your throat
- Lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and not drinking alcohol
For more information
Download our guide "Snoring & Sleep Apnea"
Snoring & Sleep Apnea