Obstructive Sleep Apnea

April 28, 2022 0

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) (or apnoea)

It is the most common type of sleep apnea and is caused by obstruction of the upper airway. It is characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep, despite the effort to breathe, and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation. These pauses in breathing, called “apneas” (literally, “without breath”), typically last 20 to 40 seconds. The individual with OSA is rarely aware of having difficulty breathing, even upon awakening. It is recognized as a problem by others witnessing the individual during episodes or is suspected because of its effects on the body (sequelae). OSA is commonly accompanied by snoring – in this case, oral appliance therapy is best.

It can also be classified as OSA if a person experiences partial collapse (hypopnea) of the upper airway.

Another related term you will hear is Central sleep apnea (CSA). This is caused by irregularities in when an individual’s brain signals to breathe. It is different from Central Sleep Apnea which occurs because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is when you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea. It falls under the medical specialty of sleep medicine.

It is common for people with sleep apnea to have a combination of both types. The typical, top symptom of the disorder is excessive daytime sleepiness.

Here is a list of common symptoms of sleep apnea:

  • Restless or disturbed sleep.
  • Loud snoring with moments of silence followed by further gasps.
  • Struggles to stay awake during the day.
  • Headache onset in the morning.
  • Difficulty maintaining concentration.
  • Being unnecessarily irritable.
  • Memory issues.
  • Mood or behavior swings occur more often.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression and a sense of hopelessness.

Some use the term obstructive sleep apnea syndrome to refer to OSA which is associated with symptoms during the daytime. Symptoms may be present for years or even decades without identification, during which time the individual may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance. Individuals who generally sleep alone are often unaware of the condition, without a regular bed partner to notice and make them aware of their symptoms. As the muscle tone of the body ordinarily relaxes during sleep, and the airway at the throat is composed of walls of soft tissue, which can collapse, it is not surprising that breathing can be obstructed during sleep.

How Common is It?

Although a very minor degree of OSA is considered to be within the bounds of normal sleep, and many individuals experience episodes of OSA at some point in life, a small percentage of people have chronic, severe OSA. Many people experience episodes of OSA for only a short period of time. This can be the result of an upper respiratory infection that causes nasal congestion, along with swelling of the throat, or tonsillitis that temporarily produces very enlarged tonsils. The Epstein-Barr virus, for example, is known to be able to dramatically increase the size of lymphoid tissue during acute infection, and OSA is fairly common in acute cases of severe infectious mononucleosis. Temporary spells of OSA syndrome may also occur in individuals who are under the influence of a drug (such as alcohol) that may relax their body tone excessively and interfere with normal arousal from sleep mechanisms.

Sadly, currently, no cure for sleep apnea exists. Recent studies show that successful treatment can reduce the risk of it triggering heart and blood pressure problems.

According to Wikipedia, Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder and is characterized by recurrent episodes of complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway leading to reduced or absent breathing during sleep. These episodes are termed “apneas” with complete or near-complete cessation of breathing, or “hypopneas” when the reduction in breathing is partial. In either case, a fall in blood oxygen saturation, a disruption in sleep, or both may result. A high frequency of apneas or hypopneas during sleep may interfere with restorative sleep, which – in combination with disturbances in blood oxygenation – is thought to contribute to negative consequences to health and quality of life.[1] The terms obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) or obstructive sleep apnea–hypopnea syndrome (OSAHS) may be used to refer to OSA when it is associated with symptoms during the daytime (e.g. excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased cognitive function).

There are 3 levels of OSA consequences: physiologic, intermediate, and clinical

The physiologic consequences of a person facing this condition are: contain hypoxia, sleep fragmentation, autonomic nervous system dysregulation, or hyperoxia. The intermediate results regroup inflammation, pulmonary vasoconstriction, general metabolic dysfunction, oxidation of proteins and lipids, or increased adiposity. The clinical repercussions of these sleep-deprived patients are composed by pulmonary hypertension, accidents, obesity, diabetes, different heart diseases, or hypertension.

FDA-approved surgical procedures can be used to remove tissue and widen the airway in extreme cases. We encourage conservative, non-invasive, early-onset sleep apnea treatment. For most people, this is the best way to proceed. If left untreated for too long, sleep apnea can be life-threatening. It is all too common that excessive daytime sleepiness causes someone to fall asleep at inappropriate times, like while driving. Sleep apnea may additionally put an individual at risk for stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), also known as “mini-strokes”. Most of the time, getting diagnosed and treated appropriately is all that is needed to protect you from these risks. Sleep aid machines that offer variable positive airway pressure (VPAP) and automatic positive airway pressure (APAP) are also widely available.

Check out our related posts:

  1. Oral Appliance Therapy for Treating OSA
  2. Why Getting Quality Sleep Matters for TMD Patients
  3. Surprising Reasons to Prioritize Sleeping Great

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