How many people in the US have sleep apnea?
Five to 10 percent of adults in the United States have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). This is approximately 20 million people, and many—the majority—are yet to be diagnosed.
Take our symptoms quiz to find out if you're at risk for sleep apnea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
OSA is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly through the night. Breathing stops because the throat or "airway" collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Sleep patterns are disrupted, resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.
What causes the airway to close during sleep?
Extra tissue in the back of the airway, such as large tonsils, decrease in the tone of the muscles that hold the airway open, the tongue falling back and closing off the airway.
What should you do if you suspect you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended. Have a sleep study done. A sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.
What are potential consequences of untreated OSA?
There is possible increased risk for:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and heart attack
- Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents
- Decreased quality of life
What is the treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Most commonly, positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the treatment of choice for OSA. It is noninvasive and can alleviate the symptoms of OSA when used as prescribed. Less commonly, surgery or oral appliances are used, which may be effective in certain cases. Any treatment plan should include weight loss if needed, exercise, and avoidance of alcohol, sedatives, and hypnotics.
How does PAP or "CPAP" therapy work?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) treats OSA by providing a gentle flow of positive-pressure air through a facial mask to keep the airway open during sleep. As a result:
- Breathing becomes regular during sleep
- Snoring stops
- Restful sleep is restored
- Quality of life is improved
- Risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and motor vehicle and work accidents is reduced
What are the night time symptoms of OSA?
- Loud or disruptive snoring
- Witnessed pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Restless sleep
- Frequent visits to the bathroom
What are the day time symptoms of OSA?
- Early morning headaches
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Depression or irritability
- Falling asleep during routine activities
What can put you at increased risk for OSA?
- A large neck or tongue
- Extra tissue or crowding in the airway
What are the benefits of regular usage of PAP therapy?
- Most PAP users who remain committed to treatment enjoy:
- Increased energy and attentiveness
- Fewer morning headaches
- Reduced irritability
- Improved memory
- Increased ability to exercise
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of strokes and heart attacks
- Increased effectiveness at home and at work
- Improved overall quality of life