Apnea- temporary cessation of breathing, especially during sleep.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is:
- Complete obstruction of airway
- Or, Airflow reduced by 90% or more
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a prevalent and severe sleep disorder that causes patients to stop breathing during sleep. The airway is repeatedly obstructed. This reduces or completely stops the flow of air to the lungs. When the airway blockage happens, patients may snore loudly or make choking noises as they try to breathe. The brain and body becomes oxygen deprived and the patient wakes up. The arousal from sleep prevents the patient from having rejuvenating sleep. Plus, the constant oxygen starvation causes a wide variety of systemic health problems. The blockage of the airway can happen a few times a night, or in more severe cases, several hundred times a night.
In Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by the tissue in the back of the throat collapsing over the pharynx (The pharynx makes up the part of the throat situated immediately behind the nasal cavity, behind the mouth and above the esophagus and larynx). The muscles of the upper airway relax when you fall asleep. This narrows the airway, which decreases the amount of air that can reach your lungs. The airway can become completely blocked causing NO AIR to reach the lungs.
Obstructive Sleep apnea can make you wake up in the morning feeling sluggish or unrefreshed even though you have had a full night of sleep. During the day, you can feel fatigued, have difficulty concentrating or may even accidentally fall asleep. This is because your brain and body is waking up numerous times throughout the night and you are not getting a rejuvenating nights sleep.
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Pre-diabetes and diabetes
- Sudden Cardiac Death
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
- Snoring that is loud, disruptive, and regular is one of the most obvious signs of potential OSA.
- Frequent breaks in breathing caused by an obstruction. These cessations are ofen followed by choking or gasping noises as the body’s respiratory system fights through the blockage.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness caused by frequent interruptions of sleep.
- Morning Headaches stem from the loss of oxygen in your bloodstream that flows to your brain as a result of the irregular breathing at night.
- Restless sleep. Sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea often have disturbed sleep as their mind and body are constantly awakened throughout the night, pulling them out of the much needed stages of non-REM and REM sleep.
- Depression or irritability. Lack of regular quality sleep can wreak havoc on a person’s mental well-being. Sufferers of obstructive sleep apnea ofen find themselves feeling short-tempered, and in time it can lead to more severe symptoms of depression.
What happens if sleep apnea is left untreated?
- Cardiovascular problems. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can cause a strain on your heart as sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during OSA increases your blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) increases the likelihood of a number of heart diseases and complications:
- Abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia)
- Greater risk of coronary artery disease.
- Greater risk of heart attack or heart failure.
- Greater risk of having a stroke.
- Daytime Fatigue. Untreated OSA keeps your body and brain from getting a full night’s sleep as you continuously wake because of breathing obstructions disturbing your sleep. This leaves sufferers feeling tired and groggy throughout the day. People with untreated OSA have a higher risk of work related accidents and driving related accidents resulting from lack of restful sleep at night.
- Complications with medications and surgery. Medications such as sedatives, narcotis analgesics, and general anesthesia all aid in relaxing your upper airways that can further complicate your OSA.
- Morning headaches are caused by the decreased amounts of oxygen reaching the brain during sleep.
- Irritability, depression, and/or mood swings are also common symptoms of sleep apnea. Losing sleep every night can make you more prone to anxiety, irritability, having a short temper, and over time, even lead to depression.