Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Richmond VA
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a medical condition that can affect children, adults, and seniors. With OSA, soft tissues in the throat and back of the mouth collapse during sleep and block airflow. ‘Apnea’ means ‘to stop breathing’. Sleep apnea is when someone stops breathing during sleep. These apnic episodes occur for 10 seconds or longer, multiple times throughout the night. When airflow stops, the brain is alerted and signals the body to reinitiate breathing. This results in a lack of sufficient REM sleep, a sleep phase required for the body and mind to recover from the days activities. Thus OSA leads to sleep deprivation, which can seriously affect your health and quality of life. It can even end your life if your body does not signal to reinitiate breathing.
If you know that you’re getting enough sleep at night, but still feel tired, you may suffer from OSA. To obtain a diagnosis of OSA, one must attend a series of sleep studies at a sleep lab. This typically includes one or more overnight stays to pinpoint the cause of the sleep disturbances and establish a diagnosis.
In some cases at-home sleep studies are sufficient to establish a diagnosis. Some patients prefer to sleep in their own beds where a sleep monitoring device records the data about their apnic episodes. A qualified sleep physician reviews the data to determine the severity of OSA.
The traditional treatment for OSA is the CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mask, a moderately noisy, bulky device that users often find uncomfortable and inconvenient. Alternatively, oral appliances have been approved for mild to moderate sleep apnea. There are about fifty different OSA devices on the market. These appliances are selected and custom fitted for each qualified patient.