Sleep Apnea (SA) occurs when a person frequently stops breathing for short periods (10-30 seconds) during sleep. This can occur up to 400 times per night. 25% of surgical patients suffer from SA and 95% of patients with SA go undiagnosed. These patients experience more post-surgical complications and more frequent stays in the intensive care unit.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of SA and occurs when the soft tissue in your throat narrows and repeatedly closes during sleep, preventing air from getting into the lungs.
What are symptoms and effects of SA?
People with SA can suffer from fatigue and sleepiness, chronic headaches, depression, heart issues, high blood pressure, and more. Treating sleep apnea can improve lower back pain, increase strength and balance, reduce fatigue, and more.
What increases the likelihood of SA?
Nasal obstruction (deviated septum)
Ethnicities: African Americans, people of Mexican origin, Pacific Islanders
Polycystic ovary syndrome
High blood pressure
Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
Problems after cervical spine surgery
Primary hypoventilation syndrome
Physical characteristics, such as:
■ Thick neck
■ Obstructed nasal passages
■ Large tongue
■ Narrow airway
■ Receding chin
■ Certain shapes and increased rigidity of the palate and jaw
Chronic respiratory tract conditions, such as:
■ Chronic bronchitis
■ Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
You also have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea if you breathe through your mouth while sleeping, or if you snore.
ARE YOU AT RISK OF SA?
Answer Yes or No to the following:
1) Snoring: Do you snore loudly (loud enough to be heard through closed doors)?
2) Tired: Do you often feel tired, fatigued, or sleepy during daytime?
3) Observed: Has anyone observed you stop breathing during your sleep?
4) Blood Pressure: Do you have or are you being treated for high blood pressure?
5) BMI: BMI more than 35 kg/m2?
6) Age: Age over 50 years old?
7) Gender: Male?
How did you score?
– ￼High Risk of SA: answering yes to three or more items
– ￼Low Risk of OSA: answering yes to less than three items
Treatments for Sleep Apnea:
Positive Airway Pressure Therapy (PAP) is the most common form of therapy for OSA and can help prevent or reduce the serious health consequences of sleep apnea. PAP therapy keeps the upper airway open by providing a steady stream of air through a mask so you won’t stop breathing during the night.
A specially fitted mouthguard is another form of treatment as it also keeps your upper airway open during sleep.
You may also talk with your doctor about ways to reduce other risk factors for SA.