What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

The most common sleep breathing disorder is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is caused when the upper throat muscles relax too much during sleep, cutting off or restricting the airway. These episodes, which also cause the oxygen level in the blood to drop, last from 10 seconds to a minute or longer. The brain registers lack of oxygen and the individual wakes up just enough to open the throat and begin breathing again, starting the cycle over. Most of the time, individuals don’t remember these episodes in the morning, but they severely disrupt the restorative effects of sleep. People with moderate or severe sleep apnea may be waking up hundreds of times every night without knowing it. Officially, about 4 percent of men and 2 percent of women have sleep apnea, but research shows that many more people are living with it. One estimate put numbers at 24 percent in men and 9 percent in women; another said nearly 14 percent of adults have the disorder.

Signs and Symptoms:

Individuals may present with one or several of the following signs and symptoms when screening for possible Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Snoring

  • Excessive Daytime Sleepiness

  • Decreased Memory/Concentration

  • Depression

  • Morning Headaches

  • Waking with a Choke or Gasp

  • Personality Changes/Irritability

  • Hypertension – elevated Blood Pressure

  • Nocturia – frequent nocturnal washroom visits


Risks of untreated Apnea:

If left untreated, Obstructive Sleep Apnea may have significant health related complications such as:

  • Hypertension – elevated blood pressure

  • Reduced Quality of Life Due to excessive sleepiness

  • Coronary Artery Disease

  • Cardiac Arrhythmias

  • Congestive Heart Failure

  • Stroke

  • Heart Attack

  • Motor Vehicle and Work related accidents

Find out if you are at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Click here to take the short questionnaire:

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