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What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea & How Can OSA Affect You?

Apr 17, 2008
The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. To date, researchers and healthcare professionals have not come to a single conclusion about the exact cause of obstructive sleep apnea. The soft palate is the most affected region of obstruction for most of the individuals having obstructive sleep apnea. It occurs as a result of muscle relaxation to a certain degree when the air passage gets fully collapsed and turns out to be obstructed.

The Cycle of Sleeping Disruption

When the airway collapses and breathing stops, the person will wake up because the airway is obstructed. Being awake generally only happens for a few seconds and then the person goes back to sleep. This constant disruption stops the person from reaching a deep sleep known as REM or Rapid Eye Movement. This level is needed to help our bodies rejuvenate and defend against psychological and physical health conditions.

Possible Risk Factors

Being obese or overweight can be harmful for anyone. So also is obstructive sleep apnea. One of the main causes of obstructive sleep apnea is obesity. It generally happens because of the buildup of extra fat on the sides of the airway resulting in it becoming narrower, especially when the muscles relax. Age is another risk factor of obstructive sleep apnea because aging means reduced muscle mass.

Indications, Signs and Complications

Sleep disturbance is the major sign of obstructive sleep apnea. Because of the constant waking and not being able to reach a deep sleep, you may suffer daytime drowsiness, irritability, anxiety, personality changes, memory problems, depression and other symptoms. It could even add to drowsy drive syndrome which increases the risk of having a car accident. Congestive heart failure and stroke risks are higher due to the lack of oxygen.

Medical Treatments

There are many things that can be done to treat obstructive sleep apnea. Weight loss is your first option. This can then be followed up by positive pressure therapy, positional therapy, surgery or oral appliances. Positive airway pressure has three parts, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), bi-level positive airway pressure (BPAP) and autotitration. Positional therapy works with the idea that a certain sleeping position may help the patient with snoring or shortness of breath.
About the Author
Are you wondering what you can do about sleep apnea and snoring? A look at some sleep apnea statistics will tell you that you're not the only one dealing with it. Learn how to identify sleep apnea as well as some of the treatments for it on the Apnea Guide website at http://www.apneaguide.com
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