Wayne B. Colin, DMD, MD, Lexington Clinic Otolaryngologist
If after a formal sleep study, the diagnosis is made of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, there are both subjective personal reasons and objective medical reasons to seriously consider treatment. Repetitive obstruction to breathing during sleep can produce blood oxygen levels dramatically below normal with resultant effects on the heart and brain. Obstruction to breathing triggers a reduction in the depth of sleep so as to improve muscle tone and relieve the blockage to breathing. The result is a poor quality of sleep and impaired "quality of life."
Chronic deprivation of quality sleep results in severe daytime sleepiness and fatigue with deficits in thinking, impaired memory and communication. It also can result in moodiness, irritability and depression and is statistically linked to a dramatic increased risk of automobile and truck accidents.OSA is associated with and may promote severe life threatening diseases. Several reports suggest a slight decrease in life span when OSA is not adequately treated. OSA is very commonly associated with high blood pressure and has an increased risk of heart attack, irregular heart beats and stroke. The natural evolution of untreated severe OSA is often congestive heart and respiratory failure even in young patients. It seems intuitive that undiagnosed or untreated OSA appears to be associated with a dramatically higher cost of medical care. Fortunately OSA can be treated by medical and, or, surgical methods and will improve both subjective and objective deficits.