Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common form of sleep apnea, a disorder marked by frequent breathing interruptions that can severely disturb sleep. Whereas other forms of sleep apnea can arise from problems in the brain, OSA results from problems in the airway. Here is what you should know about this common disorder.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Some OSA patients snore, but all are bound to wake feeling unrefreshed and stay sleepy throughout the day. Morning headaches, resulting from low oxygen levels, are also common. Many patients also have low mood and poor cognitive functioning from a lack of restful sleep.
OSA Causes and Risk Factors
Physical characteristics that raise the risk of OSA include oversized tonsils, large tongue and receding lower jaw. Weakness in muscles around the throat increases the risk of airway collapse during sleep. OSA patients are more likely to be overweight, smokers, male and over the age of 40.
Diagnosis and Treatment of OSA
OSA diagnosis begins with consideration of medical history and includes an overnight sleep study to confirm that sleep apnea is occurring. With mild OSA, patients may experience relief from avoiding alcohol and smoking, losing weight and sleeping on their left side. Clinical treatment may include CPAP, in which patients have their airways held open during sleep by air pumped into their nose from a bedside machine, or newer dental treatments. The latter options include oral appliances to hold the tongue and jaw forward and soft tissue surgery to remove excess tissue in the airway. To learn more about the latest dental treatments, patients can schedule a consultation with our expert in sleep apnea in Northridge.
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