Dec 27, 2012A disorder, first described in 1965, characterized by recurrent interruptions of breathing during sleep due to temporary obstruction of the airway by lax, excessively bulky, or malformed pharyngeal tissues (soft palate, uvula, and sometimes tonsils), with resultant hypoxemia and chronic lethargy. Sleep in the supine position predisposes apnic episodes.
Obstructive sleep apnea breathing is interrupted by a physical obstruction to airflow, despite efforts to breathe. The patient will often wake up but is rarely aware of the difficulty they had. The problem is typically noticed by whoever is watching the patient sleep, such as partners, parents, siblings, or other people in a dormitory.
There are several types of sleep apnea (sleep-disordered breathing), of which obstructive sleep apnea is the most common.
Most patients with obstructive sleep apnea snore, but not all.
US health authorities believe that approximately 1 in every 5 American adults has some degree of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The National Health Service (NHS), UK reports that OSA is common, and affects 3.5% of men and 1.5% of women. People over the age of 40 are more likely to develop the condition; but individuals of all ages may be affected, even children.
Obese people are particularly at risk of having OSA because the extra fat pushes against the throat muscles.