Obstructive Sleep Apnea , or OSA, is a sleep disorder that can be very serious if left untreated. While there are certain risk factors, such as being overweight, anyone of any age, gender, or weight can develop it. With this condition, a person actually temporarily stops breathing while asleep, due to their muscles relaxing enough that their airways become blocked. Anyone who has sleep apnea should seek treatment right away.
How Do I Know if I Have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
There are a few telltale signs of OSA. Obviously, if you sleep in the same area as someone and they’ve observed pauses in breathing, that’s a very strong indicator, but many people live alone or do not have someone else awake while they are sleeping. However, there are ways that you can tell for yourself whether you might have obstructive sleep apnea.
The strongest sign that you have OSA is if you find yourself frequently waking up in the middle of the night, panting or short of breath. This means that you likely just had a pause in your breathing and your body woke you up to help clear your airways. Obviously, this isn’t a problem if it happens once or twice, but if it occurs on a regular basis, you should definitely see a doctor.
Other signs of OSA can include waking up with a dry mouth, sore throat, chest pain, or a headache; loud snoring; and being very tired during the day or otherwise showing symptoms of sleep deprivation even though you went to bed early enough to get enough sleep.
What Are the Consequences of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
OSA has a variety of potential consequences, ranging from mild to severe. While daytime sleepiness might seem a relatively slight problem, the fact is that it can have a serious effect not only on people suffering from OSA, but also on the others around them. Sufficient sleep deprivation has been shown to be equal to being drunk as far as how much it hampers someone’s ability to drive or perform other complicated tasks. This means that even a smaller amount of sleepiness can increase your risk of a car accident or an accident with machinery at your place of work.
OSA also increases the risk of developing many serious conditions or of making them worse. Diabetes, heart failure, stroke and high blood pressure are just some examples of the serious – potentially fatal – conditions that can be brought on or worsened by OSA. As you can see, this condition should not be taken lightly, as it can lead to a serious illness, injury, or even death.
What Can I Do to Treat OSA?
Obviously, as with any medical condition, your first step if you suspect you have OSA should be to speak with your doctor. He or she will be able to evaluate whether you do actually have OSA or perhaps another sleep disorder, and whether your case is mild or severe. Some very mild cases can be changed through different sleeping positions or similar lifestyles changes, but many people need therapeutic treatment.
One of the most common devices used in treating OSA is a CPAP machine . CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. The CPAP machine has a mask that is strapped to your face while you sleep. The machine regulates air pressure to keep your airways open regardless of how relaxed your muscles get or of other contributing factors. This method works for almost everyone who has OSA.
If you believe you have OSA, call a Sleep Rite professional and schedule a consultation.