Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat repeatedly collapses during sleep. Some amount of airway collapse while sleeping is normal. Too much can be a problem. For example, OSA is said to be mild if the airway collapses five to 15 times an hour, and severe if an airway collapsing occurs more than 30 times in an hour.
One in every 10 adults may have sleep apnea that requires treatment. Signs of sleep apnea might include:
- loud snoring
- periods of “apnea” (not breathing)
- daytime sleepiness
- loss of concentration and memory
- irritability or mood changes
Dangers of leaving sleep apnea untreated
People who have untreated sleep apnea can have some long-term, increased risk for major health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Another danger of untreated OSA is that it can interrupt sleep so much that it causes excessive daytime sleepiness. This becomes a public safety concern when you get behind the wheel of a car or other vehicles.
In February 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released results of a survey of nearly 75,000 adults in 12 states including Minnesota. It showed that:
- Close to 5 percent of those surveyed admitted to “nodding off” while driving in the previous 30 days
- Nearly 38 percent reported falling asleep unintentionally at least one day in the preceding 30 days.
This means that sleep deprivation, whether from sleep apnea, insomnia or other causes, is much more of a public health concern than previously suspected.
Obstructive sleep apnea is easily identified with a sleep study at one of our Fairview Sleep Centers, where sleep is monitored overnight in a sleep laboratory and treated with a variety of treatment options available.
It is easier than ever to find out if you have sleep apnea with home sleep studies. Testing equipment has advanced greatly and is now small, portable and easy to set up. If you qualify, your sleep specialist will send you home with a sleep study kit and complete instructions. Learn more about home sleep studies.