Approximately 30 million Americans are victims of a sleep disorder called Obstructive sleep apnea. Man millions more are predisposed and have a high risk of developing the illness. If you are and adult male, the odds are about 50/50 that your breathing is not normal when you are sleeping.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
OSA is a recurrent episode during sleep when their throat closes and they cannot suck air into their lungs. This happens because the muscles that normally hold the throat open during wakefulness relax during sleep and allow it to narrow. When the throat is partially closed and/or the muscles relax too much, trying to inhale will suck the throat completely closed and air cannot pass at all. This is an obstructive sleeping apnea episode.
A cessation of breathing must last 10 seconds or more to be called an apnea. Obstructive apnea episodes can last as long as two minutes and are almost always associated with a reduction in the level of oxygen in the blood. When an individual is in the midst of an obstructive sleep apnea episode, as long as sleep continues, the apnea continues. It is only terminated and waking up saves the victims life. This arousal instantly increases the activity of the muscles of the tongue and throat muscles that enlarge the airway. The victim will be able to breathe and to once again fill the lungs with life-giving oxygen. This cycle may be repeated hundreds of times a night while the suffer has no idea it is happing
How serious is OSA?
Depending on the degree of severity, OSA is a potentially life threatening condition. Some one who has undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea is likely to have a heart attack, a stroke, cardiac arrest during sleep, or a harmful accident. In addition, awakening to breathe hundreds of times in a single night causes the victim to become very sleep deprived. There is a constant risk of serious accidents such as falling asleep while driving as well as impaired function in the workplace. Untreated OSA tends to progressively worsen and sooner or later will result in partial or complete disability and death.
These are some of the symptoms that OSA victims face.
Cardinal Symptoms: Fatigue and tiredness during the day, loud snoring.
Common features are: Obesity, Small jaw, thick neck, High blood pressure, Restless sleep, Depressed mood and/or irritability, Reduced sex drive and impotence, Snorting, gasping, chocking during sleep, difficulty concentrating, A dry mouth upon awakening, Excessive perspiration during sleep, Heartburn, Rapid weight gain, Memory lapses, Change in personality, and frequent nocturnal urination.