Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common and potentially serious sleep disorder characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete obstruction of the upper airway during sleep. It results in temporary pauses in breathing, known as apneas, which can lead to oxygen desaturation and disrupt the normal sleep cycle.
- Apnea: The temporary cessation of breathing during sleep, lasting for at least 10 seconds. These episodes can occur numerous times throughout the night.
- Obstruction: The blockage or narrowing of the upper airway due to relaxation of the throat muscles and soft tissues, leading to difficulty in breathing.
- Hypopnea: A partial reduction in airflow during sleep, resulting in shallow breathing. While not as severe as apneas, hypopneas can still disrupt sleep and lead to oxygen desaturation.
- Snoring: Loud and habitual snoring is a common symptom of OSA, caused by the air struggling to pass through the narrowed airway.
- Daytime Sleepiness: People with OSA often experience excessive daytime sleepiness due to frequent awakenings during the night, preventing them from obtaining restful sleep.
- Gasping or Choking: Sometimes, individuals with OSA may awaken suddenly with a gasping or choking sensation as they try to resume breathing after an apnea episode.