Sleep Apnea - FAQ
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
OSA is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly through the night. Breathing stops because the throat or "airway" collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Sleep patterns are disrupted, resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.
What causes the airway to close during sleep?
Extra tissue in the back of the airway, such as large tonsils, decrease in the tone of the muscles that hold the airway open, the tongue falling back and closing off the airway.
What should you do if you suspect you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended. Have a sleep study done. A sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. ENT doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options base on this information.
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and heart attack
- Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents
- Decreased quality of life
What is the treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Most commonly, positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the treatment of choice for OSA. It is noninvasive and can alleviate the symptoms of OSA when used as prescribed. Less commonly, surgery or oral appliances are used, which may be effective in certain cases. Any treatment plan should include weight loss if needed, exercise, and avoidance of alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotics.
How does PAP or "CPAP" therapy work?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) treats OSA by providing a gentle flow of positive-pressure air through a facial mask to keep the airway open during sleep. As a result:
- Breathing becomes regular during sleep
- Snoring stops
- Restful sleep is restored
- Quality of life is improved
- Risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and motor vehicle and work accidents is reduced
- Loud or disruptive snoring
- Witnessed pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Restless sleep
- Frequent visits to the bathroom
- Early morning headaches
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Depression or irritability
- Falling asleep during routine activities
- A large neck or tongue
- Extra tissue or crowding in the airway
- Increased energy and attentiveness
- Fewer morning headaches
- Reduced irritability
- Improved memory
- Increased ability to exercise
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of strokes and heart attacks
- Increased effectiveness at home and at work
- Improved overall quality of life
If I need to be hospitalized, should I take my device use it at night?
Yes. Also, if you are having surgery, it is important to tell the surgeon and the anesthesiologist that you are using CPAP at home. You should also inform the doctor treating you for sleep apnea that you are going into the hospital.
What is the purpose of using a humidifier with a therapy device?
Humidifiers are designed to moisturize the air that is being delivered to you from the therapy device. There are two types of humidifiers—heated and unheated. Heated humidifiers do not “heat the air” but will increase the moisture content of the air delivered. Humidifiers can help to reduce some of the side-effects of therapy, such as dry nose.
What is the role of tubing used with a therapy device?
The tubing is used to carry the air from the therapy device to the mask. You should clean and inspect your tubing at least once a week to make sure it is clean, pliable, and free of tears. If you think your tubing is ready for replacement, contact your homecare provider.
What is the role of filters used with a therapy device?
Therapy devices come with filters. Some devices come with one regular filter and others come with two—one regular filter and one ultra-fine filter. Consult your device manual for proper maintenance of your filters.
What type of surgery of sleep apnea?
There are many surgical options to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The type of surgery that is chosen is dependent on an individual's specific anatomy and severity of sleep apnea. However, surgery is not the "miracle cure" either. Most surgeries are safe; however every surgery, no matter how small, carries risks. Contact your ENT doctor for details.