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Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Definition of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common and under-diagnosed sleep disorder.  It is characterized by  repeated episodes of breathing pauses in sleep (apneic episodes) followed by startling/chocking or gasping sounds in sleep.  Often, persons who suffer from sleep apnea are unaware they have apnea unless a bedpartner or other family member or friends hear the pauses in breathing during sleep and report it to the person.  The consequences of sleep apnea can be severe if not adequately treated.  Sleep Apnea can cause or exacerbate daytime sleepiness resulting in motor vehicle accidents, home and work place injury, cardiac rhythm problems (especially Atrial Fibrillation), stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, hypertension and sudden death in sleep.  Sleep Fragmentation from Sleep Apnea can cause daytime problems with memory, concentration, attention and focus.  You can feel “foggy brained”. Sleep Apnea can cause irritability and depression.

Although more common in adults, children may also have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  In children the sleep disruption from Obstructive Sleep Apnea can cause daytime hyperactivity, difficulty with focus and attention, memory problems-symptoms that MIMIC  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

Causes of Sleep Apnea

There are many contributing factors to the development of Obstructive Sleep Apnea that differ in adults and children.  Dr. Gingras will discuss these with you during your evaluation.

Potential Signs and Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

  • Snoring is THE RED FLAG for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults and Children (but children can have sleep apnea without snoring)
  • Bedpartner, spouse, family or friends hearing breathing pauses when you sleep
  • Waking in the middle of the night gasping/chocking
  • Walking frequently to urinate
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Waking with headaches
  • Hypertension or diabetes that is difficult to manage
  • Waking unrefreshed after a sufficient amount of sleep 
  • Unexplained Weight gain or not being able to lose weight with diet and exercise
  • Depression or irritability
  • Sexual dysfunction (loss of sexual desire)
  • In children: If previously trained at night and begin bedwetting  or continue to bedwet at a latter age

When should I call for an evaluation?

If you have Snoring and 1 other symptom listed above, you should call Gingras Sleep Medicine and Dr. Gingras can evaluate you for Sleep Apnea.  If your insurance requires a referral from your primary care physician (PCP), please contact your PCP for a referral to Gingras Sleep Medicine.  The referral forms can be obtained on our website.

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can only be diagnosed/confirmed by an overnight sleep study called a Polysomnogram (PSG).  A PSG test is used to record  variety of body functions while you sleep.  The PSG  may be done in our sleep laboratory or for adults by a Home Sleep Apnea Test (HSAT).  An HSAT is not appropriate for children and the HSAT does have limitations.  A laboratory Polysomnogram measures your brain’s activity, blood oxygen levels, airflow, heart rate, breathing, eye movements, and muscle movements during sleep.  A polysomnogram can also tell the sleep physician if you are achieving the proper stages of sleep.   A Home Sleep Apnea Test measures breathing during sleep and oxygen levels but cannot provide data on stages of sleep or leg movements in sleep as brain waves and leg movements are  not recorded.    Benefits and limitations of both testing options will be discussed during your visit with Dr. Gingras.

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

There are many potential treatments of Obstructive Sleep Apnea that differ in adults and children.  Treatment for sleep apnea depends on the cause and severity of the condition.  Dr. Gingras will discuss your appropriate treatment once diagnosis and severity of sleep apnea is determined. 

Some treatment options include:  Positive Airway Therapy (PAP), Position, Oral Airway Patency Device, Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A) especially in children, weight loss, and others.

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