About Us Blog Find a Provider Preferred Partners TAP.wiki

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

WHAT IS OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA?

The Greek word “apnea” literally means “without breath.” Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is an involuntary cessation of breathing that occurs while the patient is asleep.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and mixed. Of the three, obstructive sleep apnea, often called OSA for short, is the most common.

Despite differences in the root cause for all three types, all people with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night and often for a minute or longer. In most cases the sleeper is unaware of these breath stoppages because they don’t trigger a full awakening.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious and life-shortening consequences: high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, accidents caused by unintentionally falling asleep, diabetes, depression, and other ailments.

Sleep apnea is seen more frequently among men than among women, particularly African-American and Hispanic men. A major symptom is extremely loud snoring, sometimes so loud that bed partners find it intolerable. Other indications that sleep apnea may be present are obesity, persistent daytime sleepiness, bouts of awakening out of breath during the night, and frequently waking in the morning with a dry mouth or a headache. However, not all of these symptoms are always present. Only a home or in-lab sleep study can show definitively that sleep apnea is present and how severe it is.

OSA is caused by a blockage of the airway, usually when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses and closes during sleep. As a result, the patient’s sleep is extremely fragmented and of poor quality.

Sleep apnea is very common, as common as type 2 diabetes. It affects more than 18 million Americans, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Due to the lack of awareness by the public and health care professionals, the vast majority of sleep apnea patients remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, despite the fact that this serious disorder can have significant consequences.

Untreated, sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular disease, memory problems, weight gain, impotence, and headaches.

Moreover, untreated sleep apnea may be responsible for job impairment and motor vehicle crashes. Fortunately, obstructive sleep apnea can be treated with the TAP Sleep Care System.