Most of us have heard of the term obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), but do we know what it means and how serious it can be? Read on to learn more about what OSA is and what you can do to treat it if you’re a sufferer!
Let’s first look at why sleep is important. For our bodies to function at optimum performance, they need rest. The rest we get during proper sleep allows for restorative processes like muscle growth and tissue repair. It also aids in a process called neuroplasticity - our brain’s ability to create new neural connections based on memory acquisition and learning.
When we don’t get adequate sleep, it can lead to a host of problems. These can range in severity from issues like irritability and poor memory to increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and depression.
Simply put, OSA is when breathing stops or is significantly decreased one or more times during sleep. More technically, it occurs when airflow is decreased by at least 80% for more than 10 seconds. These interruptions can happen 30 or more times an hour. So what exactly happens?
As you fall back asleep, the above cycle repeats itself again throughout the night.
It is estimated that 17 - 20% of adults suffer from OSA, though less than 10% have been diagnosed. It is more prevalent than diabetes or asthma. An even greater percentage, up to 67%, experience heavy snoring. The chances of having OSA increase if you are overweight, but anyone can be affected.
There are a number of things you can do to lower your risk of OSA and/or treat an existing condition. These include:
If you think you might suffer from OSA, don’t delay in speaking to your doctor or dentist. They can help point you in the right direction and get you the help you need!
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