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Neurology

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Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Do you snore at night? Do you often wake up gasping for breath? Has your partner told you that you seem to hold your breath while sleeping? If any of these sound familiar, you might have a medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your breathing stops periodically during sleep. The lapses in breathing occur in up to 10-second intervals and can happen hundreds of times a night in severe cases. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea, affecting more than 20 million Americans. People of all age groups (including infants and children) can experience obstructive sleep apnea, but it’s most frequently seen in men over age 40, especially those who are overweight or obese.

What is happening when you live with obstructive sleep apnea? The condition occurs when the upper respiratory airways become blocked. Several things can cause the blockage, such as:

  • Throat muscles relax so much that they begin to collapse
  • The tongue falls back into the airway and blocks it
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids impede airflow

If you think your troubled sleep may point to obstructive sleep apnea, talk to your primary care physician about your symptoms or make an appointment with Ogden Clinic’s sleep experts today.

How is obstructive sleep apnea managed?

In many people, weight loss helps to deter obstructive sleep apnea if it’s caused by excess fatty tissue buildup in the throat. Your physician may also adjust certain medications if they relax the airway muscles too much.

A popular therapy for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. People who use CPAP therapy sleep with a mask that fits over their nose. The mask is attached to an air pump that sits bedside while the person sleeps. The CPAP is designed to keep the airway open and also eliminate snoring.

Your provider can also discuss other options for obstructive sleep apnea, including surgery.