Do you struggle with daytime sleepiness? Does your spouse struggle with sleep because of your loud snoring? If one or both of these are true, then you may be one of the many Americans suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
Signs and symptoms of OSA include excessive daytime sleepiness, gasping/choking while sleeping, long pauses while breathing, irritability, depression, chronic headaches, loud and consistent snoring, and difficult to control high blood pressure.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a number factors, all of which are related to the ability of air to pass through the mouth, back of the throat, into the lungs and back out again. These factors include obesity (Body Mass Index of greater than 30 kg/m2), large tonsils or uvula, short neck, enlarged neck circumference (greater than 16inches in women and 17 inches in men), and a small chin.
Diagnosis of OSA is made with a sleep study – either at home or in a sleep lab – and interpreted by a sleep specialist. Most of the time the best treatment is correction of the underlying cause such as losing excess weight or removing enlarged tonsils. However, the most common effective therapy is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) that is delivered via a mask that is connected to a machine. The machine blows air into the lungs past any obstructions throughout the night. Sometimes people find that wearing the mask is uncomfortable, but over the last several years there have been new masks designedthat are more tolerable.
So if any of the symptoms above hit home with you then ask your doctor about OSA. It is important to start a discussion with your doctor, because treating OSA can help keep you awake at home, on the road, at work, and even at church! And if OSA is causing you to snore, then treating it may even help your marriage.