Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Obstructive sleep apnea - Wikipedia

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which the upper airway collapses repeatedly during sleep. It is the most common breathing problem associated with sleep.

In a healthy individual, the muscles of the throat that control the soft tissues (which include your tongue and soft palate) remain in a partially contracted state during sleep to maintain a patent airway. Whenever these muscles relax, OSA develops. This causes your airway to constrict or even collapse, making it difficult for the patient to breathe for a brief period of time.

If left untreated, OSA can cause many life-threatening complications. Thence, it is necessary to make an early diagnosis and treat it as soon as possible. For the best treatment options, visit the Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Islamabad.

Who Is At Risk To Develop OSA?

Unfortunately, obstructive sleep apnea can affect everyone. Several factors, however, place you at a higher risk, such as:

Obesity

Obesity is common in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, but not all patients with OSA are obese. It is the excess fat deposition in the upper airway that makes breathing difficult.

Age

The risk to develop OSA increases with age. It becomes increasingly common beyond the age of 60.

Gender

Obstructive sleep apnea affects twice as many men as it does premenopausal women. After menopause, the incidence of obstructive sleep apnea rises in women.

Secondary Narrowing

Some congenital problems during embryonic development or an acquired condition like enlarged tonsils might narrow the airway to cause OSA.

Hypertension

OSA is more commonly seen in patients who also have high blood pressure.

Nasal Obstruction

Patients who have a blocked nose at night have twice as much risk of developing OSA too.

Others

Asthma, smoking, and diabetes are some of the other potential risk factors that induce OSA.

Is OSA Treatable?

Fortunately, as of today, we have many treatment options for OSA that improves the symptoms drastically. The treatment options include:

Losing Weight

People with OSA who are also obese are frequently advised to lose weight and exercise. Weight loss has been found to significantly reduce the intensity of OSA, albeit it may not lead to total remission.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)

The initial treatment for OSA is CPAP therapy. It is given using a face mask that is worn at night. The face mask gradually provides positive ventilation (positive pressure) to keep the airways open. 

Bi-level Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP)

When CPAP therapy is ineffective, bi-level positive airway pressure machines are often used to treat OSA. In response to your breathing, BPAP machines deliver two pressures: pressure when inhaled and pressure when exhaled accordingly. This refers to the difference in pressure between inhalation and exhalation.

Surgery

In elderly patients with OSA, there is no consensus on the importance of surgery. When CPAP or BPAP devices are not working, you may want to seek surgical therapy.

If you are drowsy during the day or have trouble sleeping on a regular basis, you should always consult a professional. Visit the Best Internal Medicine Specialist in Karachi that will help you devise a treatment plan that works best for you!