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Are you at risk for sleep apnea?

Are you at risk for sleep apnea?

Everyone has brief pauses in his or her breathing pattern, such as the short pause that occurs after a deep sigh. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat muscles and tongue relax and sag during sleep, blocking the opening of the airway.

Breathing becomes labored, loud, and stops until the brain signals the need for oxygen, waking the person and keeping them from getting deep sleep.

Sleep apnea is just one of 84 reported sleep disorders. About 24 percent of men and 9 percent of women have the breathing symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea with or without daytime sleepiness. Between 80 and 90 percent of adults with obstructive sleep apnea remain undiagnosed.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has obstructive sleep apnea, call your primary care physician.

Risk factors

  • Are you male?
  • Are you overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or above?Approximately two-thirds of children diagnosed with sleep apnea are overweight or obese.
  • Are you older than 40?
  • Do you have large tonsils?
  • Is your neck size larger than 17 inches if you are a man; 16 inches, if you are woman?
  • Are you a post-menopausal woman or a middle-aged man?
  • Are you a minority?
  • Does a family member have OSA?

There are treatments for sleep apnea

Over-the-counter remedies may reduce snoring but may cover up the presence of sleep apnea.

Behavioral changes. Losing body weight will benefit many people who suffer with sleep apnea. Sleeping on the side rather than the back, may also lessen symptoms.

Oral appliances. Oral appliances, similar to mouth guards used for sports can stabilize and reposition the jaw, tongue and palate to keep airways open. A trained professional must fit the appliance.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). A CPAP device delivers a steady stream of pressurized air through a mask as the patient sleeps. The airflow keeps the airway open, prevents breathing pauses and restores normal oxygen levels. CPAP is common treatment for moderate or severe apnea, but may also be used in mild cases.

Surgery. In severe cases or in situations where there is an anatomic deformity, surgery may be the best treatment option. Two of the most common surgeries to treat sleep apnea are uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), a trimming of the soft palate, sometimes including removal of the tonsils and uvula and adenotonsillectomy, the surgical removal of the tonsils and adenoids.

If you or people you live with suspect that you have sleep apnea, don’t wait. Contact your primary healthcare clinician today. Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition. If you don’t have a primary care clinician contact the Ministry Medical Group clinic nearest to you.

Affinity Health System Sleep Disorders Labs are state-of-the-art full service sleep labs, which test patients for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Ministry Health Care offers treatment options for such disorders such as sleep apnea.


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