Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by repetitive collapse or critical narrowing of the upper airway, usually behind the uvula and soft palate and/or the base of the tongue. Reduced upper airway muscle tone and other physiologic changes that take place normally during sleep can promote OSA in patients with susceptible anatomic features like a prominent tongue base, enlarged tonsils, or extra fatty tissue around the neck. Snoring can be a clue to the diagnosis, as this reflects vibration of soft tissues due to turbulent airflow across the narrowed area. Breathing pauses during sleep or waking up gasping/choking are highly suggestive. OSA can lead to significant daytime sleepiness because of fragmented nocturnal sleep as the brain is awoken by upper airway collapse/narrowing – the patient is often unaware that this has taken place. Sleep apnea also contributes to a number of serious health problems like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and cardiac arrhythmias.
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Complete the STOP-Bang questionnaire to assess your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.