Tuesday, August 22, 2017

 
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What is Sleep Apnea?

          Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a life threatening and life altering condition that occurs when a person repeatedly stops breathing during sleep. The cycle of OSA starts with snoring. The airway collapses or closes off. The person tries to breathe but is unable to get air into their lungs through the collapsed airway and an apnea (cessation of breathing) occurs. The brain realizes that it is not getting enough oxygen and fresh air and it wakes the person from a deep level, to a lighter level, of sleep. The airway opens and normal breathing occurs. The person falls back into a deeper sleep, begins snoring again and the cycle repeats. Apneas may occur more than 20 times every hour.

          A person with OSA never feels rested because they never have normal sleep. The lack of sleep affects daytime alertness and one’s ability to function well throughout the day. The low oxygen levels associated with OSA, and the effort required to breathe during the night, put a strain on the cardiovascular system.

 
      
 
 
 
Normal Breathing   Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Airway is open
  • Air flows freely to lungs
  • Brain rests
 
 
  • Airway collapses
  • Airflow is blocked
  • Brain is kept on alert, unable to effectively rest
 Ultimately, OSA takes its toll on the individual’s quality of life. When left untreated, the disorder can lead to serious consequences such as increased risk of:

               •   High blood pressure
               •   Heart attack
               •   Heart disease
               •   Stroke
               •   Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents