Sleep Disorders Center at Straub
Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What is it?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is very loud snoring and is the clearest sign. Snoring loud enough to be heard in the next room or even across the street. The snoring will be interrupted by quiet periods, often followed by gasping, snorting and body movement. Loud snoring is often one of the first signs of OSA. Snoring, of course, is not a normal state in adults or children. It's caused by some degree of closure (obstruction) of the airway (nose/throat). Snoring often occurs or gets worse when you have a stuffed up nose due to a cold or allergy, are overly tired or take medicine or alcohol that causes relaxation of the breathing muscles. People with OSA are unable to breathe; that is, they can't take in air continuously while they sleep. The Greek word "apnea," in fact, means "no breath." The times when no air gets through periodic pauses can cause frequent awakenings, poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. They also can contribute to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Approximately 4 percent of adult males and 2 percent of adult females in the United States are thought to have OSA. Experts believe these figures are the same in Hawaii. However, it is estimated that up to 15 percent of Hawaii's population may actually have OSA, but have yet to be diagnosed.
What To Look For in Adults and Children?
In Adults: Very loud snoring. Daytime sleepiness might occur even after a usual night's sleep. Sleepiness tends to get worse as time goes by and can interfere with work and personal relationships. Sleepiness can even result in automobile accidents. Other symptoms might include: morning headaches, sore throat on awakening, trouble concentrating, forgetfulness, irritability, personality changes. OSA also is tied to anatomy. Adults and children who are overweight-or who have short, thick necks-may be at a higher risk for OSA.
In Children: OSA may be related to snoring, squeaky or other "difficulty breathing" sounds. Often these children will have enlarged tonsils and adenoids and can be overweight. They also may do poorly in school and behave sluggishly.
How To Find Out if You Have OSA
A definite diagnosis is made by recording breathing along with sleep stage information during a nighttime sleep study, called a poly-somnogram (PSG), usually done in a sleep lab. If you suspect you may have OSA, ask your doctor about it. Your doctor will go over your particular problem, get a medical/sleep history and do a physical exam. It's helpful to have your bed partner or other household member come to this visit. If your doctor thinks you may have OSA, he or she will refer you to a Sleep Disorder Center to have a PSG.
What Does the Straub Sleep Disorders Center Do?
The sleep specialist will do a sleep evaluation and/or order your PSG. If you come to the Straub Sleep Disorders Center, you'll have access to the top sleep specialists in Hawaii. If you have a PSG, your breathing, heart rate, oxygen saturation and other variables will be monitored throughout the night. The results of this study will indicate if you have OSA, how severe it is and help to determine appropriate treatment options. The good news is that this is a condition that can be treated successfully in the vast majority of cases. OSA, however, is only one of the sleep-related disorders diagnosed and treated by the Straub Sleep Disorders Center. Others include:
- insomnia, or trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or awakening too early
- excessive daytime sleepiness
- sleep-wake schedule problems/sleep problems related to shift work
- nightmares, sleepwalking, sleep-talking
- disturbing leg movements before and/or during sleep
The Straub Sleep Disorders Center is the only accredited sleep disorders clinic in the state of Hawaii. This means we offer comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services to people of all ages, with all types of sleep disorders.
For more information, see your Straub physician or call 1-808-522-4448.