Sleep Apnea

Understanding Obstructive Sleep Apnea


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that can have many serious health consequences.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition in which the flow of air pauses or decreases during breathing while you are asleep because the airway has become narrowed, blocked, or floppy.

Normally, the upper throat remains open enough during sleep to let air pass by. When the muscles in the upper throat relax during sleep, breathing can stop for a period of time, often more than 10 seconds. This is called apnea.

Early recognition and treatment are essential to alleviate the symptoms and complications associated with OSA.

Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea may experience these symptoms:



  • Cognitive dysfunction
  •   Irritability
  •   Depression
  •   Decreased Libido
  •   Impotence
  •   Morning Headaches
  •   Poor concentration
  •   Daytime Sleepiness



  •   Nodding off
  •   Snoring
  •   Choking/ gasping
  •   Lack of energy
  •   Weight gain or loss
  •   Nighttime urination





Health Risks Associated Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • sleep-apnea-cycle

    High Blood Pressure and OSA: Untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea is strongly associated with hypertension and can predict the development of hypertension. Difficulty controlling blood pressure can be a warning sign of underlying OSA.

  • Diabetes and OSA: Repetitive drops in oxygen and interrupted sleep patterns, as seen in OSA, are associated with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance. Untreated OSA can cause difficulties regulating glucose levels in diabetics. Diabetics can have up to a 58% risk of underlying OSA.
  • Obesity and OSA: Sleep loss due to interruptions from OSA is associated with changes in hormones which directly affect hunger levels and appetite. Untreated OSA has been linked to increased risk of obesity.
  • Risk of Traffic Accidents and OSA: Risk of being in a traffic accident is 6 times greater in patients with OSA. CPAP treatment can reverse this to almost normal.

Diagnosis and Screening: Level III Ambulatory Portable Monitoring

In the presence of high pre-test probability, a Level III screening test can be used to confirm the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and identify if there are other breathing disorders, possibly related to co-morbid disease, which may warrant further investigation in a Level 1 Sleep Disorder Lab.

In conjunction with screening questionnaires to assess pre-test probability of Sleep Disordered Breathing, a Level III monitor will record the following data:

  • Air FlowSnore
  • Respiratory Effort
  • Heart Rate
  • Oxygenation

man_with_sleep_apneaAfter instructions on how to apply, the monitor is taken home and used for one night. Returning the monitor the following day, the data is downloaded and assessed for Sleep Disordered Breathing.

The test results are interpreted by an independent Sleep Specialist to confirm diagnosis, after which a treatment course will be recommended.sleep-apnea-prevalence