Obstructive Sleep Apnea is caused by repetitive upper airway obstruction during sleep due to a narrowing of the respiratory passages. Patients with the disorder are most often overweight with an increased size of the soft palate and tonque. Some patients have airway obstruction because of a diminutive or receding jaw that results in insufficient room for the tongue.
Decreased airway muscle tone during sleep and the pull of gravity when sleeping on your back, further decreases airway size, thereby impeding airflow during respiration. As tissues collapse a complete obstruction may occur and lead to snoring. The patient struggles to breathe and is aroused from sleep. These obstruction episodes are often associated with reduction of oxygen in the bloodstream. Cycles of sleep, snoring, obstruction, arousal occur throughout the night. Some patients may obstruct a hundred or more times within an hour. Multiple arousal's with sleep fragmentation are the likely cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Continued interruptions in your sleep pattern are potentially dangerous to your well-being. You may think you had a good night’s sleep, but your body says otherwise! It has been fighting for air all night to maintain basic organ function. You are suffering from air hunger, and your body has experienced little to no rest. Depriving your vital organs of sufficient oxygen during sleep can lead to organ deterioration and potentially shorter life spans.
Administering Continuous Positive Airway Pressure via a CPAP machine and interface (such as the DeltaWave) remains the best option for a majority of those with obstructive Sleep Apnea. Millions of people in the U.S. are so far undiagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms. Chronic snoring is a strong indicator of sleep apnea and should be evaluated by a health professional. Since people with sleep apnea tend to be sleep deprived, they may suffer from sleeplessness and a wide range of other symptoms such as difficulty concentrating, depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or driving. Left untreated, symptoms of sleep apnea can include disturbed sleep, excessive sleepiness during the day, high blood pressure, heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, stroke or depression.
One of the most common methods used to diagnose sleep apnea is a sleep study, which may require an overnight stay at a sleep center. The sleep study monitors a variety of functions during sleep including sleep state, eye movement, muscle activity, heart rate, respiratory effort, airflow, and blood oxygen levels. This test is used both to diagnose sleep apnea and to determine its severity. Sometimes, treatment can be started during the first night in the sleep center.
The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. This method of treatment is highly effective. Using the CPAP as recommended by your doctor is very important. -National Sleep Foundation