Obstructive sleep apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep due to partial or complete blockage of the upper airway. These pauses, called apneas, can last from a few seconds to a minute or more and occur several times per hour throughout the night. People with OSA often snore loudly and struggle to stay asleep, leading to fragmented, non-restorative sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA occurs when the muscles in the upper airway relax and collapse during sleep, blocking the flow of air. This can be due to a variety of factors, including obesity, aging, and physical abnormalities in the airway such as large tonsils or a deviated septum. Alcohol and sedative use, as well as certain medical conditions such as nasal congestion, can also contribute to OSA.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Common symptoms of OSA include:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Repeated awakenings during the night
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Irritability or mood changes
- Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
- Chest pain or discomfort
Diagnosis and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Diagnosis of OSA typically involves a thorough evaluation of sleep patterns, medical history, and lifestyle factors. A sleep study, such as polysomnography (a test that records brain activity, eye movements, and other physiological signals during sleep), may be performed to confirm the presence of OSA and determine its severity.
Treatment for OSA may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and avoiding alcohol and sedatives, as well as medical therapy, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which uses a mask to deliver air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. In some cases, dental devices or surgery may be recommended.
In severe cases of OSA, surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue from the airway or reposition the jaw and tongue to improve air flow. In some cases, a combination of lifestyle changes and medical therapy may be recommended.
It is important to seek treatment for OSA, as untreated OSA can lead to a number of serious health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and decreased quality of life. People with symptoms of OSA should speak with their healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.
Prevention of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The most effective way to prevent OSA is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid alcohol and sedatives. People with OSA should also avoid sleeping on their back, as this position can worsen airway obstruction.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. Early diagnosis and treatment are important for managing OSA and improving overall health and well-being. Lifestyle changes and medical therapy, such as CPAP therapy, can be effective in treating OSA. People with symptoms of OSA should speak with their healthcare provider to discuss treatment options.
- American Academy of Sleep Medicine. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://aasm.org/resources/patient-information/obstructive-sleep-apnea/
- National Institutes of Health. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/obstructive-sleep-apnea
- American Sleep Association. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.sleepassociation.org/patients-General/obstructive-sleep-apnea/
- Mayo Clinic. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/obstructive-sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20352091
- World Health Organization. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/obstructive-sleep-apnea
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/apnea/index.html
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