November 23, 2020

An Introductory Guide to OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

An Introductory Guide to OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)

Sleep apnea is a condition that around 22 million Americans suffer from. Sufferers of this condition aren’t able to get a good night’s sleep cause their breathing stops when they try to go to bed.

Sleep is an essential part of our lives. Studies have shown that individuals who didn’t get a good night’s sleep had significantly more health problems than those who slept well [1].

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA medical abbreviation) is one of the leading causes of sleep apnea. It is estimated that around 80 % of Americans that suffer from this condition go undiagnosed [2].  If you or one of your family members suffers from this condition, you know how deliberating it can be.

Although the only way to cure this disease is to go into surgery, not all people will be able to fix their sleep apnea. The treatment methods depend entirely on the severity of the condition. Currently, there are many therapeutic methods that you can use to alleviate the symptoms.

The first step to treating any illness is to learn about it. We’ve tailored this article specifically to help people that don’t know much about OSA sleep apnea.


What is OSA?

Patient dealing with OSA

OSA, a medical abbreviation for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, is a condition in which the airway gets obstructed when you try to lay down to sleep. Let’s take a quick look at the respiratory system to understand this condition a bit better.

Your breathing system starts in your nasal canal and moves down into your lungs through this tube called a trachea. Then an exchange of gases happens in your lungs, and you exhale carbon dioxide, which your body doesn’t need. Now in OSA, the back of your nasal canal gets blocked when you lie down.

This prevents you from breathing properly, and as a result of this, it’s impossible to sleep properly.


How was OSA Discovered?

Sleep apnea has been around for many years, and we have evidence that people have been suffering from sleep-related disorders for centuries. However, this condition wasn’t studied much back then, as doctors and researchers didn’t have all the tools we do today.

It wasn’t until William Ostner that this condition got a name, ‘Pickwickian syndrome.’ He named this term after a Charles Dickens novel ‘The Pickwick Paper.’ One of the overweight characters in the book showcases the same symptoms that most sufferers of sleep apnea did.

However, later on, Pickwickians syndrome got classified into a sleep-related illness that referred only to Obesity hypoventilation syndrome, and sleep apnea became its own separate term in 1965.

Medicine has come a long way since these days, and today we know a lot more about OSA. In 1981 the first CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device was created, which gave individuals a way to treat this illness without surgery. The sleek and efficient machines that we use today are a far cry from those devices; however, they still use the same basic principle that the first-ever CPAP device used. We use this device today and OSA on CPAP is a very effective form of therapy.


Common Symptoms of OSA:

Man Sleeping With OSA

If you’re unsure whether you have this illness or not, then you’ll want to look at some of the symptoms that people that have sleep apnea show. We’ve given some of these symptoms down below:

  • Insomnia is one of the most common symptoms.
  • Restless sleep will cause you to be exhausted in the morning.
  • You tend to have episodes where you wake up at night gasping for air.
  • Ask a loved one if they’ve seen you have difficulty breathing while you sleep.
  • In case you find yourself sleeping during the day, it could be because of OSA.
  • Dry mouth might be a result of your nasal canal being blocked.
  • You might find that you snore a lot at night.

Bear in mind that this list is not exhaustive, and you’ll need to do a bit more research into this subject. So you’ve learned that you display quite a lot of these symptoms; what next?

OSA can differ from person to person, so your next step should be to get a diagnosis. This blog will give you everything you need to know to find a doctor near you.


What Does a Diagnosis Mean For You?

Patient Being Diagnosed

OSA is a serious condition that needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Delaying a doctor’s visit might make your health much worse. Individuals that get deprived of sleep have been shown to have high blood pressure and increased susceptibility to heart attacks[3].

So if you’re unsure whether or not you need to get a diagnosis, then we highly recommend that you go as soon as possible.

Although this condition might seem intimidating at first, you needn't worry much. A diagnosis will help you figure out how to deal with this condition in the most efficient manner possible. In recent years modern medicine has seen significant advancements in this field, and there’s a lot of treatment solutions that are accessible.


Treatment Methods:

Many treatment methods are available for this condition. We’ve listed some of the most popular treatments below:

  • CPAP: One of the most popular methods that are non-invasive.
  • BiPAP: It provides two levels of airway pressure
  • APAP: These machines are more adaptable than the other two.
  • Sleep apnea Mouth Guards: A device that is easy to carry around.
  • Surgery: This option is only possible for some individuals

What treatment you use will depend entirely on your diagnosis. OSA is different for every person, and you’ll only know your options once you take a trip to your doctor and get a thorough diagnosis. Your doctor will be able to guide you about what methods are best.

Another factor you’ll need to consider is personal comfort. The main goal of any treatment for OSA is to make your life easier. If it’s not comfortable, then you won’t be able to use it.

That’s why it’s crucial to do as much research as you can on this subject. When you’re taking your next trip to the doctor, bring up all of these issues so that you can get what works for you.


Few Final Words:

OSA can be a daunting illness; however, with the treatments that exist today, you’ll be able to deal with it perfectly. The technology will only get better as time goes on, so don’t be disheartened by your diagnosis. We hope that this article has helped you to learn more about this illness.

In case you’re looking for more information about sleep apnea, then consider checking out our blogs. We have many detailed articles about everything related to sleep apnea, so take a look, and you might find some articles that are right for you.

Written by The Sleeplay Team

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