What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)? If you snore loudly or often feel tired after a full night’s sleep, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Although snoring is quite common, it can be life threatening if not treated properly.
When snoring is accompanied by breathing cessation or irregular breathing patterns, this may point to a more serious condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Because of the risks associated with OSA, it can cause stroke, heart attack, or even premature death.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that prevents you from getting traditional, restorative sleep by blocking the airway in the throat and restricting breathing. Often thought of as an extreme form of snoring, sleep apnea can be very dangerous. Each apnea (frequent pause) can last anywhere from five seconds to more than a minute.
What causes OSA?
The muscles in our throat relax when we fall asleep, and as we breathe through the relaxed tissues they vibrate. If the vibration is minimal, we snore a little. If the vibration is frequent, we snore a lot. Obstructive sleep apnea causes the tissues to vibrate so much that they completely block the airway. Each time the airflow is restricted, our brain very briefly awakens us to re-open the airway. In addition to upsetting normal sleep patterns and cycles, this disruptive breathing can cause a sharp decrease in blood oxygen levels, which are necessary for the proper function of the brain and vital organs.
What are the symptoms of OSA?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), increases a snorer’s risk of heart attack, stroke, erectile dysfunction (in men) and high blood pressure- among other diseases. Even “simple” snoring without sleep apnea can increase the chance of a premature death. Complications from sleep apnea can also lead to an increase in depression and anxiety.
Snoring isn’t just problematic at night: many snorers suffer from fatigue, chronic headaches, and daytime drowsiness. Additionally, people who snore have higher blood pressure which can cause enlargement of the heart and heightened risk for heart attack and stroke.
What should I do if I think I have OSA?
If you snore loudly or often feel tired after a full night’s sleep, you may suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. Unlike traditional snoring, sleep apnea is a disease with many negative health risks that must be treated. If you believe that you or your bed partner may suffer from sleep apnea, Marvel Clinic can help. Get in touch with us today a 931-230-7056 to discuss your options for diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.