Sleep Apnea…What is it and What you Should Know

More than 20 million Americans from all age groups have sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which you stop breathing for ten seconds or more while you are sleeping. OSA often happens many times during the night while you sleep. During normal breathing, air enters your nose or mouth, and flows to your trachea (wind pipe) and lungs. Your throat is kept open by muscles, which let the air pass through easily.

During sleep with OSA, the muscles and tissues around your throat relax and block air from passing through. You may wake up many times during the night to catch your breath. You may feel tired and sleepy the next day, and have a hard time doing your usual activities. Having a large tongue or neck, a small chin or nose problems increases your risk of have OSA. Being overweight or having high blood pressure may also increase your risk. Sleep studies and overnight oximetry studies may be needed to check if you have OSA. You may need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, mouth devices or surgery to treat your OSA. Having obstructive sleep apnea treated will help you sleep better and stay awake and alert during the day. It may also lower your blood pressure and help reduce your risk of having brain and heart problems.

Preventing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Avoid drinking alcoholic drinks or taking sedative medicines before sleeping. This prevents muscles and tissues around your throat from relaxing, sagging and blocking the airflow to your lungs.
  • Lose weight. Losing weight will decrease the size of tissues around your throat. This may help widen your air passages and let air pass more easily through. Ask your caregiver how much you should weight. Ask him or her how you can reach and maintain an ideal weight.
  • Sleep on your side or use special pillows designed to prevent OSA. This prevents your tongue or other tissues from falling into your throat and blocking the air. You can also try raising the head of your bed.

Do You Need a Primary Care Physician?

Sky Ridge offers a free, confidential physician referral program to help you establish a relationship with a primary care physician. Please call (720) 225-5DOC (5362) Monday through Friday, between 8:00 am and 5:00pm or you may find a physician online.

Find a Primary Care Physician

The Sleep Disorders Center at Sky Ridge

We offer state-of-the-art treatment through highly trained and experienced board certified physicians, researchers and technicians as well as medical consultations for routine and difficult to treat patients. For more information, call us at (720) 225-3100 or visit us online at The Sleep Disorders Center at Sky Ridge is accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.