OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA
bstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition that causes sufferers to stop breathing in their sleep due to an obstruction of airflow.
The most common site of obstruction is the soft palate, extending to the region at the base of the tongue. During wake periods, the muscles in the palate region hold the airway open. As those with OSA fall asleep, however, the muscles relax to a point that the airway collapses and becomes obstructed. When this happens, breathing stops, and the individual awakens to open the airway. While the arousal from sleep usually lasts only a few seconds, the brief disruption prevents deep stages of slumber, including rapid eye movement (REM), which the body needs in order to fully rest and replenish its strength. Those with OSA tend to experience multiple waking episodes in a single night and are living a life characterized by chronic sleep deprivation, despite spending many hours in bed.
Patients with OSA may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Falling asleep during a social event or while driving
- Waking up with chronic headaches
- Personality changes
- Chronic fatigue
- Sexual dysfunction
- Abrupt awakening, gasping for air
Testing for OSA
Using state-of-the-art equipment in the Sleep Laboratory, the Pulmonary Department at Johnson Memorial Hospital (JMH) offers complete polysomnography, including sleep staging and "quality of sleep" summary. The system measures multiple channels of pertinent information, which is then compiled by a polysomnography technician. After a thorough review by one of the Hospital's three physicians specializing in sleep disorders, a complete report is forwarded to the patient's primary care physician, along with recommendations regarding treatment.
The range of potential treatments for OSA includes continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) titration, surgical intervention, laser corrections, oral appliances, weight loss and recommendations for body position during sleep.