If you have exhausted patients who fall asleep during the day and whose partners complain about snoring, they may have sleep apnea. Early intervention could improve their overall health, relationships and quality of life
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition caused by the pharyngeal muscles relaxing too much during deep sleep and obstructing the patient’s airway.
OSA causes the patient to snore, stop breathing, awaken a little to gasp for air, and fall back asleep. The constant awakenings disrupt sleep and the patient is often exhausted the next day
Patients usually say they suffer from exhaustion, depression, or ‘brain fog’ which is an inability to focus. They are often referred by their partner due to loud snoring or decreased sex drive, or following an accident from falling asleep at work or while driving.
Sleep apnea patients may also have hypertension, diabetes, depression, and/or morning headaches. Although these are often treated separately, the root cause may be sleep apnea.
While up to 20% of adults suffer from sleep apnea1,2 and experience related co-morbidities, 80% of those are believed to be undiagnosed.3 Many do not know that they have it, or do not recognize the severity of their symptoms.
The physiological process of sleep apnea – the blocking of the airway, waking, breathing, etc. – is normal when it happens infrequently. However, a cycle of more than five times per hour indicates sleep apnea:
|Normal||Fewer than 5 interruption per hour|
|Mild sleep apnea||Between 5 and 15 interruptions per hour|
|Moderate sleep apnea||15 to 30 interruptions per hour|
|Severe sleep apnea||More than 30 interruption per hour|
Sleep apnea can occur in all age groups and body types but there are several risk factors that dramatically increase the likelihood of having sleep apnea:
If you identify two or three of these common symptoms of sleep apnea in your patient, a sleep test may be an appropriate next step in the diagnosis. Symptoms include: 5
Co-morbidities of sleep apnea include:
Poor cardiovascular health6,7
Type 2 diabetes10,11,12,13