Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a disorder in which the patient stops breathing during sleep due to blockage of the airway.
The most common symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is snoring. This may be associated with pauses in breathing during sleep. Another common symptom of sleep apnea is excessive sleepiness during the day, at work, or while driving.
Other symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea are:
- Morning headaches
- Inability to concentrate
- Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
- A dry throat when you wake up
It’s estimated that more than 12 million American adults have obstructive sleep apnea. More than half of the people who have this condition are overweight. Sleep apnea is more common in men, however, women are much more likely to develop sleep apnea after menopause. This disorder is also more common in African Americans, Hispanics, and Pacific Islanders. If someone in your family has sleep apnea, you’re more likely to develop it. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, stroke and heart failure.
When untreated this disorder can:
- Increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
- Increase the risk for or worsen heart failure
- Make irregular heartbeats more likely
- Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents