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What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)?







By Dr. Inell Rosario, M.D.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition in which, while asleep, a person stops breathing or their breathing becomes extremely shallow for 10 seconds or more. There is ongoing respiratory effort to breathe, but no or minimal airflow is getting into the body as tissues in the throat have collapsed and are limiting air or oxygen from getting to the lungs. It is most often noticed by persons who live with the patient as the breathing pauses can be quite dramatic and alarming to hear.  

Why should I care about OSA

Obstructive sleep apnea, once poorly understood and at times the source of comedy, is now understood to be a very serious medical condition affecting essentially all aspects of a person’s health. Untreated OSA makes management of common diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and obesity much less effective. Also, patients with OSA are more likely to complain of daytime tiredness, be less productive at work, be involved in motor vehicle and work accidents, and have more issues with depression. As one ages, the incidence of OSA increases in part because of the increased collapse or sag of airway tissue. Therefore, either you will eventually suffer from OSA or it will affect someone you know, so learning more about it is very important.  

What causes OSA? Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the collapse of tissues in the upper airway, especially at the level of the back of the tongue. Continue Reading →

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