Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is so common that most adults know someone who is dealing with it by using a CPAP (Continuing Positive Airflow Pressure) machine at night. And yet, sleep experts suggest that the majority of people with OSA - many millions -- go undiagnosed and untreated and remain at risk for serious and even life-threatening health issues.
Most people shorten the name of OSA to simply "sleep apnea," but science adds the word "obstructive" because it helps to define the condition, in which a person's airway is obstructed, sometimes dangerously, during sleep. The word "obstructive" also differentiates OSA from the less-common Central Sleep Apnea, in which the brain fails to send proper signals to muscles controlling breathing.
OSA, on the other hand, is a mechanical malfunction during which muscles and tissue in the airway become so relaxed during sleep that the airway is repeatedly blocked. Partial blockage can cause the familiar rasping sounds of snoring, but the word apnea is defined as a complete cessation of airflow for at least 10 seconds.
The repeated reduction of oxygen resulting from the airway blockage caused by OSA often wakes the sufferer, who may be gasping for breath. In mild cases, the sleeper resumes rest, but more severe cases create major problems as the entire system and brain react to the lack of oxygen. When it goes undiagnosed and untreated for years, OSA can lead to a long list of major health conditions, including Type II diabetes, hypertension, stroke, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure and early death.
CAUSES, DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT
The main risk factor for Obstructive Sleep Apnea is obesity, and one scientific paper estimates 70 percent of OSA sufferers are obese. It has been suggested that even a 10 percent weight loss can be enough to reduce or eliminate or reduce OSA events. Males have a much higher incidence of OSA than females, Other risk factors include being over the age 40 and having a large neck and small chin. Certain abnormalities in the structure of the head and chin also can predispose someone to OSA. And even the physical sleep position can contribute to the condition. Laying supine – on your back – can cause the tongue and soft palate to push backward and this pressure reduces the airway.
Anyone who suspects they are suffering from OSA will receive personal attention and treatment at NY Metro Sleep, where we will guide you through the following steps: