Sleep Apnea

This is a condition in which your breathing pauses during sleep because of blockage of the airways. The pause in breathing is called apnea.




This is a condition in which your breathing pauses during sleep because of blockage of the airways. The pause in breathing is called apnea.



Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing pauses during sleep because of blockage of the airways. The pause in breathing is called apnea. The loud snoring associated with obstructive sleep apnea is caused by air trying to pass through the narrowed airway.

  • When you sleep, the muscles in your body relax. When the muscles keeping your airway open relax, your airway can partly or completely close. The risk for obstructive sleep apnea increases if you are overweight or obese, have certain jaw/airway shapes or have a large neck or tongue. Children with large adenoids and/or tonsils can also have obstructive sleep apnea.
  • People with sleep apnea usually snore. The snoring gets louder until there is a period of silence (apnea or no breathing). A loud gasp occurs when your body tries to breathe again. The cycle repeats itself during the night, and is often worse when a person sleeps on their back.

The first signs of obstructive sleep apnea are often noted by family members, especially a bed partner. Your family may state you snore loudly and stop breathing when you are sleeping. Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. They will take a history of your symptoms and do a complete physical examination. A sleep study, called a polysomnogram, is the most common test to determine if you have a sleep disorder. The test may also be done with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is done to assess the quality of your sleep while you wear a mask that delivers pressurized air to keep your airway open.

  • Both tests can be at home without an attendant, using portable equipment.
  • Some people with certain medical conditions should have their sleep apnea testing done overnight in a sleep laboratory, with a technician in attendance.
  • If your symptoms and general health permit, a home sleep test is substantially lower in cost and much more convenient.
  • After your sleep apnea test, your doctor will calculate the number of apnea episodes you have in a minute. This calculation is called an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). He will then be able to tell you how severe your symptoms are.

The main goal of treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is to keep the airways open during sleep. Treatment can include:

  • When sleeping, wearing a mask that delivers continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
  • When sleeping, wearing a dental device to help position the lower jaw
  • Avoiding nighttime alcohol and medications that make you sleepy
  • Losing excess weight

Surgery may be recommended in severe cases.

Contact your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. Be prepared to discuss your symptoms and how long you have had them.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Make a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

Here are some questions to ask your healthcare provider.

  • Do you think I have obstructive sleep apnea? If so, what do you think is causing it?
  • What are some complications of sleep apnea? Am I at high risk for complications?
  • What tests are you recommending? What is the reason for those tests? Will the test results change my treatment plan?
  • Do I need to have a sleep study? What does the sleep study involve? Is it possible to have a home sleep study instead of a sleep study done in a sleep laboratory?
  • What treatment, if any, are you recommending? What options are available? Are there treatment options I can try before CPAP?
  • If a CPAP machine is recommended, how long will I need to use it? What are the possible side effects? Will someone come to my home to set it up? What if I have problems with my mask?
  • How long will it take my symptoms to improve?
  • What are my follow-up plans and what symptoms should I report before my next appointment?

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Snoring
Sleep Study With CPAP
Sleep Study
Sleep Disorders
Sleep Apnea
OSA
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
CPAP


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