About Sleep Apnea - What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
About Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most commonly diagnosed of all sleep apnea related disorders. OSA is characterized by brief pauses in breathing that can last anywhere from 10-40 seconds during sleep. The “apneas” result in depleted oxygen saturation levels, increased pressure on the cardiovascular system, irritated nose and throat, periodic nighttime arousals that leads to fragmented sleep. A typical apnea episode is a cessation of breath followed by a deep gasping for air, more snoring and thrashing around. Most times people are completely oblivious that this is happening to them and it is quite common that a person’s sleeping partner will notice these symptoms first.
Who has Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs in all age groups and both sexes but is more common in men. The ratio is 2:1 men to woman, however, after menopause that ratio changes to 1:1
- In 2009 alone, Public Health Agency of Canada reported 860,000 Canadian adults were diagnosed. It remains a highly under diagnosed condition, with an estimated 3 million Canadians that already have it or will develop it within their lifetime.
- Incidence rises as we age with 25% of seniors (over 65) diagnosed as having OSA.
- People most likely to have or develop sleep apnea include those who snore loudly, have larger necks, craniofacial deformities, obese, high blood pressure, and diabetes,
- It seems to run in some families, suggesting a possible underlying genetic link.
- If left untreated, it can greatly diminish quality of life and can lead to early death.
Other Types of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common of the sleep apnea disorders, but there are others.
Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is when the brain fails to send the signals to inhale and exhale to the muscles that control the body’s breathing, causing one to miss one or more cycles of breathing. Patients with Central Sleep Apnea generally experience less sleepiness during the day than people with OSA.
Complex/ Mixed Sleep Apnea (MSA) is a combination of OSA and CSA. Studies from the Mayo Clinic reported a significant fraction of people diagnosed with severe OSA, which did not respond to treatment of sleep apnea called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Instead some of their apnea episodes would mimic the characteristics of CSA, indicating that the signals from the brain were not being sent.
What Are the Most Common Symptoms?
- Snoring and pauses in breathing
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- High blood pressure
- Morning headaches
- Poor judgment or concentration
- Dry mouth in the mornings
Higher risk people include those with obesity, a thick neck, and those who regularly drink alcohol prior to bedtime. Unfortunately, only 5% of people who have OSA are properly diagnosed and treated for their condition. If you think you or a loved one has this potentially life threatening condition, please make an appointment to visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Additionally you may want to complete the Sleepiness Questionnaire, before hand and bring it with you. Ask us about our FREE Level 3 Home Sleep Test
Health Complications and Risks
- Heart problems
- Heart attacks
- Poor quality of life
- High blood pressure (Hypertension)
- Car accidents and work related accidents due to sleepiness
Currently, there is no cure for sleep apnea, so it is very important that you receive and continue therapy, whether by CPAP, BiPAP or oral appliances. OSA is a life long condition, if you stop therapy, it will come back. At Clinical Sleep Solutions we are committed to making your CPAP therapy an enjoyable experience and offer free public education seminars and cleaning clinics on a regular basis, so that you can stay on top of your game.