Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the soft tissues of the throat, including the tongue, collapse and flop back against the throat. This blocks the upper airway and reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your lungs, almost like you're holding your breath. When blood oxygen levels drop low enough, the brain sends a signal to partially wake the sleeper to clear to obstruction, usually with a gasp or a cough. This can happen many times during the night - in severe cases, the sleeper may even stop breathing over 30 times an hour.
Can you imagine not breathing for over 30 times each hour? This can put a lot on strain on the heart and blood vessels since they need to work even harder to get oxygen through the body. As a result, those who suffer from OSA have an increased risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and diabetes.
Symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
* teeth grinding/ clenching, dry mouth/throat when waking
* excessive daytime sleepiness
* waking up tired and unrefreshed
* mood swings and irritability
* reduced mental function, including depression, poor concentration, poor memory, anxiety and lack of motivation
There are many treatment options for snoring and sleep apnea, which can range from lifestyle changes such as weight loss, alcohol reduction, various oral appliances, CPAP machines, to surgery to remove excess soft tissue. With all forms of treatment, some people respond better than others. We can discuss which treatments may be suitable for you or liaise with your GP or specialist.