What is OSA? With this condition, breathing stops and starts many times during the night. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when a blockage of the upper airway causes the breathing interruption. OSA not only disturbs your sleep, but also prevents your organs from getting the oxygen they need to work properly. Understanding the risk factors for and potential complications of OSA is an important part of preventing and treating this condition.

feet standing on a scale with a tape measure on the groundWho Is Likely To Develop Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Certain factors increase the risk for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), some of which are preventable. The most common OSA risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a large neck diameter
  • Biological factors such as enlarged tongue and tonsils, narrow airways or a deviated septum
  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure and other cardiac issues
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic sinus congestion

OSA is also more common among women and older adults.

What Complications Can Result?

People who have untreated sleep apnea may experience sleepiness during the day and develop hypertension, which in turn leads to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Other complications include heart arrhythmias and glaucoma. If you need surgery or medication, your OSA may worsen.
Because OSA can lead to serious health issues, it’s important to reduce your risk factors for this condition and seek treatment for sleep problems. Some of the steps you can take include:

  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Discontinuing use of alcohol and sleeping pills, which can exacerbate the symptoms of OSA
  • Sleeping on your side instead of your back
  • Using nasal sprays if your OSA is caused by congestion problems

OSA diagnosis and treatment are available at the Michigan Head and Neck Institute. Contact us at (586) 573-0438 to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing symptoms such as daytime sleepiness, morning sore throats or headaches, night sweats, restlessness, snoring, irritability and trouble concentrating. Although sleep apnea is quite serious, medical treatment can resolve this condition and restore your restful sleep.