Houston ENT and Allergy Blog

Living with Obstructive Sleep Apnea

By:
James Martin, MD
October 02, 2016

dreamstime_xxl_26798695Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects hundreds of thousands of Americans, and if you're someone who's living with OSA (or you live with someone who has OSA) you know how difficult each night can be. If you're constantly waking up because of a lack of breath, or you're being woken by a spouse or partner who is snoring or rasping loudly throughout the night, it's important to seek treatment right away. At Houston ENT & Allergy in Town & Country, we can provide relief for your sleep apnea, and also help you learn how to live with OSA on a daily basis.

What Causes OSA?

OSA occurs when the muscles in the back of your throat relax during sleep – muscles that are responsible for controlling the soft palate, the uvula, the tonsils, and the side of the throat and tongue. When these muscles relax, the airway narrows, making it hard to get adequate breath. This leads to snoring, gasping, and other breathing problems. Without enough oxygen, your brain will wake you up so you begin breathing normally again. This can happen multiple times a night, resulting in a lack of sleep and exhaustion the next morning.

Who Is Most Susceptible to OSA?

Anyone can develop OSA, but there are risk factors that make a person more susceptible to the condition. Men are almost twice as likely to develop sleep apnea, and that likelihood goes up if they are overweight. Women can develop OSA, with age and weight being primary factors. Those who smoke on a regular basis can also increase their risk of OSA, as inflammation and fluid retention can be more common in the upper airway of a smoker.

If you feel you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, or you live with someone who constantly wakes up during the night due to a lack of breath, please make an appointment with our Town & Country ENT clinic today. We will do whatever we can to make it easier to live with OSA.

 

Author: James Martin, MD

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