OSA & You

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA

WHY SLEEP MATTERS
SLEEP IS NOT FOR REST! It is for blood pressure and heart regulation, hormone control, never regeneration, memory consolidation and control of metabolism. When sleep is disrupted there are many potential effects. AND WE ARE VERY POOR JUDGES OF OUR OWN SLEEP.

WHAT IS OSA?
Partial or complete (temporary) obstruction of the upper airway causing disruption of normal sleep. Muscle tone in the area behind the tongue decreases during sleep allowing this to happen during sleep and not during wakefulness. Oxygen level, heart rate and blood pressure changes occur during these events. Normal hormonal adjustments during sleep are also disrupted. You cannot recall anything for about 30-60 seconds during a sleep period. (I.e. if you awaken 300 times for 10 seconds due to a breathing issue, you will not remember doing so!)

WHY DOSE THIS HAPPEN?
1.A small upper airway due to genetic factors. Enlarged tonsils, small nasal passages, etc can contribute but these are NOT usually the major consideration in adults with OSA.
2.Loss of muscle tone in the mouth and throat muscles as we age (which is why this problem is present now and not 25 years ago).
3.A weight component. Weight gain commonly adds to the problem by affecting hormonal levels BUT more than 30% of patients with sleep apnea are NOT OBESE.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTONS?
Individuals with sleep apnea commonly complain of loud snoring, witnessed pauses in breathing and poor quality sleep resulting in sleepiness during the day. But, many peoples do not have such complaints and still have significant sleep apnea. Other more subtitle signs and symptoms including inability to sleep on the back , acid reflux symptoms at night, multiple awakenings to use the bathroom, lack of dreaming, awakening with a dry mouth, swelling and headaches.

CAN SLEEP APNEA CAUSE COUGH AND SHORTNESS OF BREATH?
YES, sleep apnea causes strain on the heart and can result in a problem called pulmonary hypertension. Moreover, acid reflux occurs prominently during sleep in patients with OSA (and most of this is not appreciated). This is a strong trigger for cough and airway spasm. Oral secretion are often aspirated as the airway opens and close.

WHY SHOULD WE TREAT PATIENTS WITH SLEEP APNEA?
Safe and effective treatments for sleep apnea are available. Treatment has been demonstrated to improved sleep quality, blood pressure control, heart function and quality of life in many studies.

HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I HAVE THIS PROBLEM?
If yours doctors feels that OSA is a consideration, he / she may order a sleep study. This consists of a monitored night of sleep in a sleep lab. Airflow oxygen level, brain waves (EEG) and cardiac monitoring are performed. This gives a detailed assessment of the interaction between your heart, lungs and brain during sleep. This is important information for your physician, even without a diagnosis of apnea, Sleep studies are sometime used for heart rhythm monitoring, oxygen adjustment, and to rule out seizures, leg movements during sleep and other problems. Home sleep studies are inadequate and often misleading.

A sleep study is safe and non-invasive.

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