Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects millions of people, and there is a steep increase in cases over the last few decades.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea(OSA)?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which a person's breathing stops involuntarily for short intervals of time during sleep. In a healthy person, air flows smoothly from the mouth and nose into the lungs. In persons with OSA, the normal flow of air is repeatedly stopped throughout the night due to the narrowed airway space in the area of the throat. Characteristic sign of OSA is snoring. During sleep the tongue, throat muscles and the lower jaw are relaxed. The lower jaw and the tongue fall backwards hitting the small tongue(uvula) creating a snoring sound. This results in decreased oxygen to the brain and other parts of the body. So the heart pumps more forcefully leading to enlargement of heart and cardiac arrest in later stages. Carbon dioxide levels increase in the body. The brain senses this and sends signals to the tongue to move forward. The lower jaw also moves forward and leads to clenching or grinding of teeth eventually affecting the temporomandibular joints.
Untreated sleep apnea can cause serious health problems such as:
Causes of OSA
Symptoms of OSA
Day time drowsiness is a cause of worry as it increases the risk of motor accidents and industrial accidents.
Diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea ( Sleep Apnea Test )
Treatment for OSA
Oral appliances are used to treat mild and moderate OSA patients and also for patients with severe apnea who are unable to use nasal CPAP.
Oral appliances help to maintain an open airway by bringing the lower jaw forward to provide enough space for the tongue. These help in preventing the tongue from falling back and blocking the throat. It is worn just like a sports mouthguard. Its quite comfortable and easy to wear.
Fixed Appliance (Braces) for maxillary and mandibular arch expansion.
PAP(positive air pressure) therapy :
The most commonly used treatment , where the patient wears a mask and/or over the nose and mouth, an air blower gently forces air sufficient enough to prevent the collapse of the upper airway tissues through the nose/or the mouth.
Expiratory Positive Airway Pressure (EPAP)
Disposable adhesive valves are placed over the nose when the patient sleeps. During inhalation, the valve opens and helps to keep the airway open. During exhalation, the airflow is directed into small channels, which creates pressure to open the airway.
This is recommended only for people who have excessive tissue that obstructs airflow through nose or throat.