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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

August 29th, 2009

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and often means that your airway collapses or is becomes blocked during sleep.

When you try to breathe any air that squeezes past the blockage usually causes loud snoring with Obstructive Sleep Apnea being classed as clinically significant if breathing stops for more than 10 seconds each time and this occurs more than 10 times every hour.

When you experience an episode of apnea during sleep the oxygen levels in your blood usually drop to at times dangerously low levels that then trigger your brain to automatically get you to start to breathe again and wake you up, usually with a loud snore or snort sometimes accompanied by body spasms. This reaction helps tighten and open the airway muscles allowing normal breathing to restart.

Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Major signs and symptoms of severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea include chronic snoring, choking or gasping during your sleep as well as extended periods where you stop breathing all together while still sleeping. Daytime symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea can include excessive sleepiness during the day, at work or while driving as well as falling asleep during quiet periods of the day. It is common for you not to even be aware that you have a sleep apnea problem until your bed partner or family point it out to you.

Minor signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea may include memory or learning problems, not being able to concentrate, feeling irritable, being depressed, having mood swings, a dry throat when you wake up or morning headaches.

The following video shows a case of severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea where this patient stopped breathing up to 122 times per hour of sleep as well as having his heart stop beating twice for 10 seconds at a time during an Apnea.  This video shows one of those occasions.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be a life threatening condition with the frequent drops in oxygen levels, and the reduced sleep quality triggering the release of stress hormones. These hormones raise your heart rate and increase your risk of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases as well as potentially causing memory problems, weight gain, impotency and headaches.

Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea may also be responsible for job impairment as well as motor vehicle crashes during the day and is being examined more seriously now by insurance companies when investigating claims.

Factors that are known to increase the risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea include a family history of sleep apnea, a large neck, a recessed chin, male sex, abnormalities in the structure of the upper airway, smoking, alcohol use, age and excess weight.

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment

Once diagnosed, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be treated and managed.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea should not be taken lightly, if you believe, or are told by your partner that you could have the condition you should seek advice from a professionally qualified sleep specialist.

The condition can be treated once diagnosed and the risks associated with failure to act are too great to ignore.

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