Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep related breathing disorder that is caused by a partial or complete blockage in the upper airway or at the back of the throat, also known as the pharynx. Individuals who suffer from sleep apnea can experience shallow breathing and often periodic pauses in breathing, which becomes a chronic condition. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds up to a couple of minutes without oxygen, until the brain reacts to overcome the problem and may occur from 5 times up to 145 or more times per hour.

With each episode of sleep apnea, blood oxygen levels are reduced and sleep is disrupted, as the sleeper must wake briefly to resume breathing. When this happens the lungs start to inflate pushing the stomach contents down (causing night time reflux), but due to an upper airway obstruction (tongue, tonsils, palate, nose) air cannot get in. This causes the sleeper’s heart rate to jump, blood pressure to spike until the brain physically wakes the sleeper up to breath. Breathing typically resumes when the sleeper experiences a sharp or sudden movement, there is a sudden force of breath or a gasp. The sleeper may not become fully awake during this experience and usually has no recollection of awakening. This cycle happens repeatedly throughout the night, interfering with the normal sleep pattern one needs to feel rested and refreshed.

There are different types of sleep apnea and symptoms can vary, the common thread is that sleep apnea causes the heart to work harder than normal, circulating blood and oxygen to the body and brain at a rapid rate. Left untreated, OSA can cause serious, potentially life-threatening conditions such as:

  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Arrhythmias
  • Mood Disorders (Anxiety, Depression)
  • Sexual Dysfunction
  • Inability to Lose Weight
  • Reduced Enjoyment of Life
  • Motor Vehicle Accidents
  • Work Related Injuries

Are you at risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common disorder affecting 4% of the adult male population and 2% of the adult female population. OSA can also be seen in children, which is caused by swollen tonsils. The risk factors for OSA include:

  • Severe Snoring
  • BMI Above Healthy Range
  • Neck Size Over 17 Inches
  • Frequent Napping
  • Middle Age 
  • Anxiety, Irritability
  • Having large tonsils, large tongue or a small jaw bone
  • Having high blood pressure 
  • Having chronic nasal congestion

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Over time Obstructive Sleep Apnea symptoms can seriously impact your day-to-day life and over a long term can contribute to serious health risks such as, heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. OSA can cause a variety of worrying symptoms, but the most common symptoms include:

  • Loud Excessive Snoring
  • Excessive Daytime Drowsiness
  • Gasping or Choking while Sleeping
  • Stop Breathing while Sleeping
  • Morning Headaches
  • Dry Mouth or Throat when Waking
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Fragmented Sleep
  • Memory Loss
  • Impotence
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irritability
  • Nocturnal Enuresis
  • Nocturnal Reflux
  • Diabetes

OSA can be effectively managed with sleep solutions such as CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy and a variety of other treatment options.

Diagnoses for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is diagnosed by identifying and listing your symptoms you may be experiencing and scheduling an appointment with your doctor or with one of our affiliated sleep solution clinics, CanSleep Services, for a free consultation with one of the registered Respiratory Therapists and Registered Nurses to see if sleep apnea is an issue for you. At CanSleep, the Clinical Therapist will be able to provide you with information pertaining to sleep apnea and provide you with a variety of treatments available.

Once your doctor or one of CanSleep’s Clinical Therapists has determined that you are experiencing OSA symptoms, further testing and evaluating will be conducted to measure your breath patterns and sleeping habits. You may even be referred to an ENT Specialist (Ears, Nose & Throat) to evaluate any blockages in your ears or nose. The following testing may be required to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea:

  • Oximetry Testing: Is an at home screening method, which measures and records your oxygen levels and heart rate when sleeping. 
  • Level II : At home screening method, measures heart rate, oxygen levels, head position, air flow, snoring level and differentiates between REM & non-REM sleep.
  • Polysomnography (PSG) Testing: This testing is conducted at a Sleep Lab by trained technologists, which measure and record a variety of body functions such as:
    • Oxygen Levels in Blood 
    • Breathing Rate/Patterns
    • Heart Rate
    • Eye & Muscular Activity 
    • Brain Wave Activity
    • Respiratory Airflow
  • Cardiorespiratory Testing: Is a portable diagnostic device, which will monitor your sleeping and breathing patterns and your respiratory airflow.