Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a very common disorder that can be serious. It is characterized by snoring and stopping breathing during sleep. Obesity is the main risk factor for OSA, however, some individuals who are not overweight can also have OSA. Apnea is the Greek word for “no breath”.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is one of the major causes of excessive daytime sleepiness. This can be especially important when it occurs while driving or while at the workplace. OSA is also associated with other health problems such as high blood pressure, heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure, and stroke.

In addition to the symptom of daytime sleepiness, patients with OSA may have morning headaches, heartburn, or frequent awakenings to urinate throughout the night.

Diagnosis of OSA is best made with an overnight sleep study which will reveal the severity of sleep apnea. Home sleep studies can also be performed but these may not be as accurate as an in lab study and may miss the diagnosis. This study will guide your sleep medicine physician in making treatment decisions.

The most effective therapy for OSA is CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. It is a mask that may go over your nose or in your nostrils in order to give you normal air at a higher pressure. This increased pressure provided by the device keeps your airway open, so that you are not snoring and are breathing freely like you are when you are awake. In many patients, weight loss can help to the point of no longer requiring treatment.

Airway surgery is a treatment option for a small minority of patients.

Some patients may also be candidates for an oral appliance, a Winx device, or Inspire therapy for the treatment of OSA.