Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) symptoms include snoring, pauses in the breathing when sleeping including gasping or choking spells, and daytime sleepiness. Many people also complain of a dry mouth, chronic sore throat, a morning headache, and difficulty concentrating during the day. OSA can occur due to obstructing tissues of nose, mouth, or throat causing obstruction when laying down to sleep. During sleep, these muscles are more relaxed and cause the airway to be blocked.
Excessive weight gain or obesity in addition to an enlarged neck circumstance are often present in patients who experience symptoms. It is important to be evaluated and treated for this condition as OSA can put patients at increased risk for heart attacks and stroke including several other medical conditions.
OSA can be diagnosed by a sleep specialist by evaluation through a sleep study. If the patient is found to have obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep machine called a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) can be used to improve symptoms. Weight loss, smoking cessation, and discontinuation of alcohol (especially before bed) is also known to help more milder causes of sleep apnea. Lastly, if other therapies have not been effective, you may be referred to an ENT specialist to discuss procedures to enlarge the airway.