Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA, occurs when the muscles in the throat relax too much during sleep and block the airway. More specifically, the base of the tongue and the uvula relax and sag, causing the airway to collapse and sometimes close completely. Most people think it just causes loud snoring. However, when the snoring stops or pauses, the sleeper periodically stops breathing, and this lack of oxygen causes the sleeper to awaken and gasp for breath. In a patient with OSA, this cycle may be repeated as many as 600 times per night. Pauses where breathing has stopped may last for 10 seconds or more each time.
Other conditions that may cause OSA can include a smaller-than-normal jaw, large tongue, enlarged tonsils or tissues that partially block the entrance to the airway.
While most OSA sleepers do not remember awakening many times during the night, this condition puts enormous stress on the heart, increased blood pressure, severe/dangerous drops in blood oxygen levels, and fragmented sleep. Persons who experience OSA wake feeling un-refreshed and exhausted during the day despite the fact that the person feels he/she “slept fine” through the night. OSA can even be fatal… it’s important to speak to your doctor about your symptoms and concerns.
It is not uncommon for children to also experience obstructive sleep apnea. The Sleep Center treats children ages 3 and older for OSA and other sleep disorders. While children may often be unable to verbalize or identify symptoms of OSA or other sleep disorders, it is important for parents and guardians to note unusual behavior in their children that may indicate an issue, such as frequent fatigue, complaints of tiredness, irritability or trouble focusing or paying attention in school.
At the Fisher-Titus Sleep Center, our highly qualified and experienced physicians and technologists are dedicated to diagnosing and treating obstructive sleep apnea. One of the most common treatments for OSA is Positive Airway Pressure, also known as PAP, CPAP or BPAP. PAP is known as the “gold standard” treatment for OSA, and is often less costly and less invasive than surgical intervention.
PAP treatment involves the use of a small, quiet device which circulates room air into a small mask which is worn on the nose or nose and mouth during sleep. The air is pushed gently into the airway to create an “air splint.” This helps patients breathe more easily and thus sleep more soundly throughout the night.
To help educate patients regarding their first PAP treatments, the Sleep Center offers its PAP NAP program, in which our highly trained technologists work one-on-one with patients to help them learn about the use of PAP and how to cope with this new way of sleeping. Contact us today to learn more about our PAP NAP program or how we can help you with your obstructive sleep apnea.