Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, causes you to stop breathing briefly in your sleep. This is due to the muscles in the back of your throat relaxing too much. It can cause your throat to close totally or partially, and jolt you awake. OSA is different from central sleep apnea, which is caused by the brain not sending the proper signals to your body to continue breathing while asleep.
If you feel tired, irritable, and just plain crummy most days, you might be suffering from OSA. If your partner complains about your snoring and you’re having problems concentrating or remembering things, you might have OSA.
OSA is a dangerous condition affecting more than 22 million Americans. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for OSA. But half of patients can’t or won’t use a CPAP machine.
Neurosurgery One now offers a safe and effective alternative to the CPAP machine. It works gently inside of the body to keep airways open while you sleep. The procedure is called upper airway stimulation (UAS), with the trade name of Inspire. Similar to a cardiac pacemaker, Inspire is a small implantable device that emits undetectable pulses to keep airways open while you sleep.
FAQs About Obstructive Sleep Apnea
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Treatments for This Condition
What are the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea?
Other conditions can cause many of the symptoms of OSA, so it is important to talk with your doctor and have a formal sleep study performed if recommended.
Common signs of OSA include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Morning headaches
- Choking or gasping in your sleep
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Waking up in the middle of the night
Snoring is often the most visible symptom of sleep apnea, so your partner may notice the problem before you recognize the other symptoms as being related.
What causes obstructive sleep apnea?
About 4 in 10 cases of obstructive sleep apnea have a genetic component. This means you probably inherited the condition. The more relatives you have with OSA, the higher your risk of developing it.
Other factors that increase your risk of developing OSA include:
- Being male (although a woman’s risk increases after menopause)
- Physical traits, such as a thick neck, small lower jaw, or large tonsils
- Lifestyle choices, including smoking and using alcohol or sedatives
What are the risks associated with obstructive sleep apnea?
Lack of consistent, high-quality sleep leaves you feeling crummy. You always feel tired. You lack the energy to do the things you love. You may even be irritable a lot of the time.
More serious consequences of untreated OSA include:
- Daytime accidents
- Job loss
- Relationship trouble
And left untreated, OSA increases your risk of:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Lowered immune response
- Alzheimer’s disease
What are the treatments for obstructive sleep apnea?
If you are diagnosed with OSA, your doctor will want to review your lifestyle to see if you can make changes to help improve your sleep. Lifestyle changes that can help reduce or eliminate OSA include losing weight, stopping smoking, or eliminating use of alcohol and sedatives.
Your doctor also will review your health history to see if you have any conditions, such as hypothyroidism, or if you are taking any medications that might be causing your sleep problems.
Medical treatments for OSA include:
- Upper Airway Stimulation: The newest treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is an implantable device that stimulates the upper airway while you are sleeping to keep your airways open. It effectively treats OSA and also can decrease or eliminate snoring. The device is called Inspire Sleep Therapy. Neurosurgery One now offers Inspire for obstructive sleep apnea in south Denver. Learn more about Inspire.
- Breathing devices:
- CPAP delivers air pressure through a mask that is slightly greater than the surrounding air. The air pressure keeps your upper airway passages open. Using a CPAP machine requires wearing a mask that is connected by a hose to the machine. There are also types of CPAP machines that automatically adjust the pressure as you sleep.
- Your dentist can provide and fit oral appliances that keep your throat open by moving your jaw forward.
- Removing or shrinking tissue from the rear of your mouth and the back of your throat
- Removing the tonsils or adenoids
- Repositioning your jaw
- Weight loss (bariatric) surgery
- Implanting a small stimulator for the nerve that controls tongue movement