Sleep Apnea

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Sleep Apnea

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What Exactly Is Sleep Apnea?

People who experience Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) have sleep that is intermittent and disruptive and the blood/oxygen levels are much lower as a result.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea causes the tongue to be sucked back against the back of the throat. This cuts of any air flow to the lungs, and the level of the oxygen that gets to the brain is diminished. The consequence is that the individual will awaken partially, and then the air flow resumes as the throat is cleared, as the individual gives out a loud gasp.

Cycles of repeated decreases of oxygenation can lead to very serious problems with the heart and circulatory systems. The individual will also suffer from extreme fatigue and a high degree of daytime sleepiness, loss of concentration and sleepiness.

Less severe symptoms are demonstrated in some patients where the obstructions are less severe. This situation is called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. However, the symptoms with UARS can seem just as severe as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


The first step in treatment of either of these previous situations is to be able to recognize that there is actually a problem. This is usually confirmed by a spouse who hears what is going on all night, but also from the experience of the patient him or herself. Appropriate consultation with an appropriate doctor who will be able to visit with the patient and by giving appropriate examinations.

The doctor will take an appropriate history, possible x-rays and and possible examination of the naso-pharyngeal areas. An overnight sleep apnea study may also be recommended.

One common recommendation is to have the patient use a CPAP machine that delivers oxygen that is pressurized through a  tight fitting mask. This forced air makes it less possible for the obstruction of the tongue to occur.

There are also various surgeries that can be performed to tighten up the areas of the throat that are so loose that they cause a prolapse problem. These types of surgeries range from more simple plastic surgeries that can be completed by an in-office surgery, to more complex surgeries that require an overnight stay of one to two nights in the hospital.

Sleep apnea cases are not something that any patient should take for granted that the situation is going to clear up. Prolonged inattention to this condition can result in death and should be treated by a doctor as soon as possible.

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