What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is cessation of breath during sleep that lasts for at least 10 seconds, as a result of repetitive episodes of upper airway obstruction that occurs during sleep. This obstruction is usually associated with a fall in blood oxygen or arousal from sleep and may be caused by large tonsils or a large tongue, excess tissue in the upper airway, blocked nasal passages or the structure of the jaw and airway.
Patients with OSA may experience daytime symptoms such as sleepiness, fatigue, and problems with memory and concentration. Additionally, OSA can exacerbate other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems, stroke, acid reflux and insomnia. Adequate treatment of sleep apnea can improve both symptoms and associated medical conditions.
How is OSA Diagnosed?
OSA is diagnosed using an overnight sleep study, called a polysomnogram (PSG). Although a patient’s symptoms and medical history can suggest they might have OSA, until a sleep study is done, the formal diagnosis cannot be made.
What to Expect During a Sleep Study
A sleep study is used to evaluate how a patient breathes during sleep. A trained technician will connect wires to parts of the patient’s head, chest, and legs in order to monitor the patient throughout the night, watching the oxygen level, breathing pattern, and sleep pattern.
The patient stays the entire night and should try to sleep as much as he/she normally does at home. The patient can bring items that will help him/her be more comfortable such as a pillow and pajamas. Patients must also bring all medications that they might need overnight.