Sleep Disordered Breathing - PIH Health - Whittier, CA

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Sleep Disordered Breathing

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder that occurs when breathing continuously stops and restarts during sleep. This occurs when muscles in the throat and tongue relax, causing the airway to become blocked.  When this happens, the diaphragm and chest muscles have to work harder to pull air into the lungs. The blockage can actually cause you to stop breathing anywhere from five to 100 times per hour.

Symptoms of OSA can include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Waking suddenly gasping for breath or choking
  • Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
  • Sore throat and headaches upon waking
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering things and irritability

Anyone can suffer from OSA, even children. Some risk factors, such as age, gender, and genetics, cannot be changed. However, certain lifestyle choices can make you more vulnerable to OSA. These include being overweight, testosterone replacement, taking opiate medications and using alcohol.

Testing for Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Home Sleep Testing

It is essential to find out if you have OSA because this disorder can cause serious consequences for your health.  Because you actually quit breathing when experiencing OSA, it can put a great deal of pressure on your cardiovascular system. Obstructive sleep apnea can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, heart palpitations, heart failure, stroke and even death.

One way to diagnose OSA is through a test known as polysomnography. This test involves being hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung, brain activity and breathing patterns while you sleep. This test is usually performed in a sleep lab outside of your home. However, you may be eligible for an at-home polysomnography (also known as home sleep testing).

There are many benefits to home sleep testing, including:

  • Testing can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home rather than in a lab
  • You have the ability to easily self-administer the test following instruction from a health professional
  • Home sleep tests provide reliable and accurate results in high-risk patients
  • In-home tests are more cost effective and provide quicker results  than tests performed in a lab

Following your in-home sleep test, the equipment is returned to a sleep specialist who then reads the test results. The sleep specialist will then be able to diagnose and treat your OSA or refer you for more testing if results are inconclusive.

See the instructional video for hooking up your in-home sleep monitor.