Many people take a good night’s sleep for granted. They sleep peacefully through the night unaware that an estimated 1 in 5 Canadian adults have their sleep disrupted by repeated episodes of upper airway collapse, known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Up to 85% of those suffering with this sleep disorder have not been diagnosed.
Untreated OSA is associated with increased risk for:
- Hypertension – risk increased 2-3 times
- Heart Failure – it is estimated that 40-70% of these patients may have OSA
- Diabetes – of all types, but Type 2 is more prevalent in these cases
- Arrhythmias – 2-4 times more likely to develop
Thankfully, OSA is a treatable condition once diagnosed.
Signs and Symptoms
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a serious breathing problem that interrupts your sleep. The two key symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea are:
- You’re very sleepy during the day, but you don’t know why
- You snore and/or have pauses in your breathing while sleeping (you will not know this but your partner may notice)
Other indicators of obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Gasping or choking during sleep
- Difficulty concentrating
- Headaches upon waking
- Memory loss
- Sexual dysfunction
- High blood pressure
Gaining weight can place more tissue around the airway. This makes it more difficult for the muscles which hold the airway open to do their job. When these muscles cannot hold the airway open it results in closure of the airway. This in turn will cause the person to have a disrupted sleep resulting in daytime tiredness.
Some sleep experts believe that there may be a genetic link to sleep apnea. Yes, another thing we can blame on our parents. If someone in your family has OSA and you are experiencing symptoms, it is a great idea to be tested for OSA.
If you have an airway which is smaller in diameter then it will be more prone to closure once the airway muscles relax during sleep.
No matter the possible cause of a person’s airway closure, if one is experiencing symptoms then having a test for OSA is a great idea. A sleep test is easily done and take only one night. It can be done in the patient’s home with the benefit of sleeping in one’s own bed.