Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition where during sleep the back of the throat closes and cuts off the normal flow of air to the lungs. This can occur up to 400 times every night. The person may even stop breathing for 10-30 seconds at a time. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep – even if you don’t realize it! The constant awakenings prevent the body from entering the very important and body refreshing “deep sleep” known as REM sleep.
Symptoms of OSA
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include loud or frequent snoring or silent pauses in breathing and choking or gasping sounds. Other common symptoms include:
- Waking in the morning feeling unrefreshed
- Being tired during the day
- Morning headaches
- Waking up frequently at night to go to the bathroom
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Loud persistent snoring
How is OSA diagnosed?
Obstructive sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a medical doctor. To find out if you have OSA your doctor or sleep specialist will complete a sleep evaluation. This will involve a sleep study, most often done in the comfort of your own home (HSAT – home sleep apnea test) or at a sleep center. A sleep specialist will interpret the data from your sleep test. The information from the evaluation and the sleep test will be used to determine if you have OSA and to what degree, mild, moderate or severe.