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  • Writer's pictureDr Samintharaj Kumar

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)? A Comprehensive Guide

Updated: Mar 12, 2023

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is a common and serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is a condition that causes breathing to stop and start repeatedly during sleep, resulting in poor sleep quality and other health problems.

The term "obstructive" refers to the airway blockage that occurs in OSA. During sleep, the muscles in the back of the throat relax, causing the airway to narrow or close completely. This leads to a decrease in oxygen levels in the blood, which triggers the brain to wake up briefly to restore normal breathing. This cycle can occur hundreds of times throughout the night, disrupting sleep and leading to a range of symptoms.

The most common symptoms of OSA include loud snoring, gasping or choking during sleep, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and difficulty concentrating. If left untreated, OSA can increase the risk of serious health problems, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

OSA is diagnosed through a sleep study, which is typically done at a sleep clinic. During the study, a person's breathing, heart rate, oxygen levels, and other factors are monitored while they sleep. Based on the results, a diagnosis of OSA can be made, and a treatment plan can be developed.

The most effective treatment for OSA is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy, which involves wearing a mask over the nose or nose and mouth while sleeping. The mask is connected to a machine that delivers a constant flow of air to keep the airway open. Other treatment options include oral appliances, which are custom-fitted devices that are worn in the mouth to help keep the airway open, and surgery, which may be recommended in severe cases.

If you suspect that you may have OSA, it is important to speak with your doctor or a sleep specialist. With the right treatment, OSA can be effectively managed, improving both sleep quality and overall health.

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