What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and how does it affect sleep?

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and how does it affect sleep?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep. These blockages lead to disruptions in normal breathing, resulting in brief awakenings or arousals as the brain prompts the body to resume breathing. These arousals, often accompanied by choking or gasping for air, fragment sleep patterns and prevent individuals from reaching the deeper stages of restorative sleep. OSA can contribute to daytime sleepiness, impaired concentration, and overall reduced quality of life. The primary mechanism behind OSA involves the relaxation of muscles in the throat and tongue during sleep, causing the airway to narrow or collapse. Factors such as excess weight, obesity, large tonsils, and structural features of the upper airway can increase the risk of OSA. The condition is also linked to various health issues, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and stroke. Treatment for OSA aims to alleviate airway obstruction and improve sleep quality. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy is a common and effective treatment option. It involves wearing a mask that delivers a steady stream of air, creating enough pressure to keep the airway open. This helps prevent apneas and hypopneas, ensuring uninterrupted breathing and promoting restful sleep. Lifestyle modifications, such as weight loss, avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime, and positional therapy (sleeping in certain positions) can also help manage OSA, particularly in milder cases.