Sleep Apnea

Topics: Sleep apnea, Sleep, Excessive daytime sleepiness Pages: 4 (1282 words) Published: December 10, 2012
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that if left untreated can result in death. According to a recent journal article, “up to 93% of women and 82% of men may have undiagnosed moderate to severe OSA” (Park MD, Ramar MD, Olson MD, 2011, p. 549). OSA is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breathing during sleep. These are called apneas and hypopneas. A recent journal article published by the Mayo Clinic defined OSA as “a disorder in which a person frequently stops breathing during his or her sleep.” “It results from an obstruction of the upper airway during sleep that occurs because of inadequate motor tone of the tongue and/or airway dilator muscles” (Park MD, Ramar MD, Olson MD, 2011, p. 549). There are many reasons this can occur. Typically, all of the muscles in the body become relaxed during sleep. This includes the muscles that help keep the airway open and allow air to flow into the lungs. Normally, the upper throat still remains open enough to let air pass. However, some people have narrower airways. When the muscles in the upper throat relax during sleep, breathing can stop for a period of time and there is a decrease in oxygen saturation and arousals from sleep. The other factors that may play a part in this as well are, shorter lower jaw, certain shapes of the palate, large tonsils or adenoids, large tongue, larger than normal neck size, and excess fatty tissue in the throat and neck area. Primary care provider’s (PCP’s) can play a major role in detecting this sleep disorder. This disorder is commonly undiagnosed, and because of that PCP’s need to incorporate screening for OSA in all patients, existing and new. “The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recognized that sleep disorders are commonly undiagnosed and called for primary care providers (PCP’s) to play a greater role in screening and treating these conditions.” “As a consequence, the American Board of Medical Specialties has approved a...
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