Sleep Apnea

What Patients Need to Know About Obstructive Sleep Apnea (Osa)

Sleepers who stop breathing momentarily while they sleep may have obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. This is a serious medical condition that not only affects a person’s sleep, but also makes them predisposed to heart problems. People of all ages and racial backgrounds can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Even children can experience sleep apnea.

What is OSA?

When a person is diagnosed with sleep apnea, this means that their airways close off during sleep. There can be many causes of OSA, from birth defects that require surgery to obesity. Another common cause is enlarged tonsils. Blockages are usually in the throat. The extreme relaxation of muscles during sleep can aggravate this condition. Layers of fat or enlarged tissues inside of the throat press on the airways to cut off a sleeper’s breath.

Health Problems Caused by OSA

Obstructive sleep apnea usually does not clear up by itself over time, even if the patient is able to lose weight. Any person who thinks that he or she may have sleep apnea needs to see their doctor to get a proper diagnosis. The patient may need to go to a sleep study center in order to be diagnosed.
People with sleep apnea may have their breath stopped hundreds of times per night. This causes excessive daytime fatigue and damage to internal organs because they are deprived of enough oxygen to get through the night. People with sleep apnea tend to develop irregular heartbeats, high blood pressure, liver problems, strokes and “mini-strokes” or trans ischemic attacks.

Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Oddly enough, many people with obstructive sleep apnea are completely unaware that they suffer from the condition. They manage to stay unconscious even when their breath has been cut off. They often find out because bedmates or other people in the house let them know their symptoms.

The Most Common Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Are:

  • Very loud snoring
  • Making a sudden choking or snorting noise when the breath is cut off
  • Constantly sleepy throughout the day
  • Problems waking up in the morning
  • Headaches when waking up
  • Night sweats
  • Sore throat when waking up
  • Problems concentrating and learning new tasks throughout the day because of drowsiness.