Obstructive Sleep Apnoea
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a common disorder of sleep affecting twice as many men as women. It usually occurs in mid-life, but can affect people at any age. People with OSA experience repeated collapse of their upper airway while asleep, resulting in poor sleep quality and, in some cases, low blood oxygen levels.
- Obesity (a major risk factor)
- Long-standing snoring
- Stop breathing episodes in sleep, as noticed by the bed partner
- Morning headache and/or dry mouth
- Excessive sleepiness during the day, sometimes including an increased risk of fall-asleep motor vehicle accidents
- Untreated severe OSA may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke and heart disease
Diagnosis usually involves an overnight sleep study in a hospital. This commonly performed procedure enables doctors to measure your breathing and sleep patterns, as well as your blood oxygen levels while you are asleep, and thus determine the presence and severity of OSA.
There are several treatments for OSA. Most patients use a device called continuous positive airway pressure (or, more commonly, CPAP), which is a pump that uses air pressure to splint open the airway at night. In milder cases, avoiding sleeping on your back or a dental splint can be helpful. Weight loss is an important part of the treatment in many, if not most, patients. Surgery for the upper airway is also an option for selected patients.