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Obstructive Sleep Apnea Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is snoring a potential health concern?

A: Snoring can be both a social problem and a symptom of a serious medical problem. Although snoring is very common, it is a form of abnormal breathing and is caused by partial blockage to airflow in the throat. The dominant concern with snoring is that it may represent one of the symptoms of OSA, which has many adverse health implications.

Q: Why is OSA a serious health concern?

A: OSA causes a poor quality of sleep with the symptoms of chronic sleep deprivation. Untreated OSA can cause high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, stroke and death.

Q: Who is at risk for OSA?

A: Both genders can develop OSA, although men may have a higher risk. OSA seems to be more common as we age; however, even children can be affected. Excess weight and obesity are strongly associated with OSA.

Q: What are the symptoms of OSA?

A: Daytime symptoms may include extreme fatigue, falling asleep in quiet situations (while driving, sitting in a quiet room, etc.), a headache in the morning, irritability, depression and personality changes. Nighttime symptoms can include very loud snoring with pauses in breathing, choking or gasping episodes, restless sleep and sweating.

Q: What physical attributes should you look for if you suspect OSA?

A: Many patients with OSA are overweight. A chronic nasal blockage, enlarged tonsils, large tongue, small lower jaw or chin or narrow throat may be visible. However, many patients will not have any particular physical feature which is outstanding.

Q: How is OSA diagnosed?

A: The "gold standard" method of diagnosis is made in a certified sleep laboratory. This requires an overnight stay where breathing, oxygen levels, heart rhythms and other features are measured during sleep.

Q: How is OSA treated?

A: The standard non-surgical treatment is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). The device uses air under a small amount of pressure to hold the tissues of the throat open. CPAP is not a cure for OSA, but a support measure that must be used every time one sleeps. Surgery of the nose, throat, jaws or windpipe can treat the OSA and snoring problems and avoid the need for a lifetime of dependence on CPAP. The operations that are currently predictable for resolving OSA are explained in this website.