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What is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructed Sleep Apnea (OSA) afflicts 20 million adult men and women in the United States. People who have OSA stop breathing repeatedly during sleep because the airway collapses.

Airway collapse may be due to such factors as a large tongue, extra tissue in the airway, or decreased muscle tone holding the airway open.

As a result, air is prevented from getting into the lungs. These pauses in breathing can happen 30 times or more per hour. When healthy sleep is interrupted in this way, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious health conditions may increase.

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Common Symptoms of OSA

OSA can occur in men, women and children of all ages and sizes. Most people who have OSA do not realize they suffer from the condition. Often, it is someone else who witnesses the first signs of OSA. If you or someone you know snores regularly and has one or more of the following symptoms, it may be OSA. Consider all of the following that apply, and share this list with your doctor.

Key signs and common symptoms of OSA include:
• Excessive daytime sleepiness
• Loud or disruptive snoring
• Gasping or choking during sleep

Other common symptoms include:
• Grogginess and morning headaches
• Frequent urination at night
• Depression and irritability
• Obesity
• Large neck or crowding of the upper airway
• Post-menopausal women

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What Happens if OSA is Not treated?

People who do not seek diagnosis and treatment for Sleep Apnea may increase their risk for the following if OSA is not treated:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease and heart attack
• Stroke
• Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents
• Decreased quality of life

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What is the Treatment for Sleep Apnea?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), pronounced “see-PAP.” Other less common treatments include surgery and oral appliances, which may be effective in certain individuals. Any treatments should include weight loss if needed, exercise, and avoidance of alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotics.

PAP therapy will relieve the airway obstruction that occurs while you sleep. PAP treatment can dramatically improve the life of someone diagnosed with sleep apnea. When you wear the system every night during sleep and optimum therapy is achieved, you may experience the following benefits of treatment:
• Increased energy level and attentiveness during the day
• Fewer morning headaches
• Reduced irritability
• Improved memory
• Less waking during the night to go to the bathroom
• Increased ability to exercise
• Increased effectiveness at home or at work
• Improved overall quality of life

You will need to use your treatment every night while you sleep. If you do not, you will return to your previous level of snoring, sleep apnea, and daytime tiredness.

Untreated sleep apnea also has been shown to co-exist with a number of other medical conditions, such as:
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Heart attack
• Irregular heart beat
• Stroke

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Do you have Sleep Apnea?

If you suspect you might have OSA, see your doctor. Evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended. Have a sleep study done. A sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.

What is a Sleep Study?

In order to receive a proper diagnosis, you will be required to undergo a sleep study. Sleep studies can be preformed in a sleep lab or at home using a portable device. During an in-lab sleep study, you will spend the night in a private room at a local sleep center. The use of portable devices allows you to undergo testing in a number of places including nursing homes, hospitals, or the comfort of your own home. Your physician will recommend the most appropriate type of study. Based on the results of the study, your physician will be able to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment options.

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