What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Sleep is a requirement of the body’s organs for rest and rejuvenation to maintain optimum health.

The official definition of apnea is “without breath.” Some may associate feeling breathless as being in the presence of the object of their affections. However, there is nothing romantic about obstructive sleep apnea, which is the result of a recurrent interruption of breathing due to an anatomic airway obstruction or loss of muscle tone of airway structures.

The airway is composed of the upper and lower jaws, tongue, tonsils, soft palate and side wall of the throat. The sleep-wake cycle happening during sleep apnea creates an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream.

It is estimated that 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from a chronic sleep disorder, impairing daily functioning and seriously affecting their health. Approximately one in 20 people in the United States suffers from obstructive sleep apnea.

Unfortunately, due to a lack of public awareness, 80 to 90 percent of adults with clinically significant sleep-disordered breathing remain undiagnosed and are not receiving treatment.

Left untreated, sleep apnea can increase the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, dementia and even traffic accidents.