Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee


Obstructive Sleep Apnea

“Apnea” is from the Greek words meaning “want of breath”. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the muscle around the upper airway, or throat area, relax as we initiate sleep. The relaxation of these muscles results in a collapse of the upper airway, such that a significant reduction in or cessation of airflow occurs. This decrease in airflow through the upper airway causes a drop in our oxygen level and/or an arousal from sleep. Thus, sleep is repeatedly disrupted or fragmented, and the end result is daytime fatigue or sleepiness. OSA has been shown to be associated with an increased risk for many health conditions, such as: hypertension, stroke, heart attack, heart disease, increased blood sugar levels, slowed metabolism, obesity, frequent nighttime urination, bedwetting, erectile dysfunction, reflux/heartburn, fitful sleep, headaches, dry mouth, sore throat, chronic cough, short term memory loss, decreased focus/concentration, and depression/anxiety. OSA is diagnosed with a sleep study, and can be treated using various different methods. One of the most common and effective methods of treating OSA is Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) therapy – a pressurized mask that delivers a gentle flow of air through the nasal passageway to keep the upper airway open during sleep. OSA can also be treated with an oral appliance (used to advance the jaw and/or tongue base during sleep to keep the airway open) and surgery in some cases. OSA occurs in both children and adults, and often worsens with age.  It is more common in men than women, and is largely underdiagnosed.

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