What is OSA?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea is when your airway closes up during your sleep. This causes you to stop breathing, making your brain wake and opening your airway up again before falling asleep instantly. These micro-arousals, caused by the apneas, often go completely unnoticed by the person despite occurring up to 400 times a night, although partners or room-mates are more likely to notice the splutter or loud snoring noise associated with them. It is the symptoms of Sleep Apnea, more than the events themselves, that provide the clues about your condition.
The result of Sleep Apnea is that sleep is fractured and unreplenishing, often leaving the sufferer waking up still tired despite having seemingly slept normally for eight hours or even longer. This, along with the other Sleep Apnea symptoms that are mentioned below, are the most common way of noticing you have OSA, as the actual apneas themselves are rarely noticed. On average, people have OSA for seven years before being diagnosed!
The NHS estimate that there are more than 2.5 million people with OSA in the UK, with up to 80% of those undiagnosed. This makes the prevalence of OSA comparable to Diabetes. In 2010, approximately only 86,000 NHS Sleep Studies were conducted. More OSA statistics can be found here.
The three main symptoms are:
SNORING, EXCESSIVE TIREDNESS and BEING OVERWEIGHT. Having any, or all, of these significantly increases the likelihood of OSA. You can find a comprehensive list of symptoms and contributing factors here.
Unlike most health conditions, OSA has a therapy that is 100% effective in the form of CPAP. Anyone diagnosed with OSA can be successfully treated. Other treatment options also exist, notably Positional Sleep Therapy (PST) and Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). For further information about the therapy options read OSA Treatment Options.
Concerned you may have Sleep Apnoea?
Read "Should I take a Sleep Test?" now.