Q. What is obstructive sleep apnea syndrome?

A. Apnea literally means “no breath”. Obstructive sleep apnea is a syndrome characterized by an obstruction of the upper airway repeatedly throughout sleep. It is serious, potentially life altering, and life threatening. It is both easily identified and effectively treated.


Q. What causes snoring?

A. It is a noise produced primarily when a patient inspires during sleep, due to vibration of the soft palate and other tissues in the upper airway. All snorers have incomplete obstruction of the upper airway.


Q. What causes my airway to collapse during sleep?

A. This can be caused by extra tissue in the back of the airway such as inflamed tissue to enlarged tonsils or adenoids. The tongue can fall back into the airway and help block it. Also a decrease in the tone of the upper airway muscles that help hold the airway open can cause sleep apnea.


Q. How common is obstructive sleep apnea?

A. OSA may affect as many as 20 million Americans. Some studies have suggested it is as common as adult asthma and approximately 80-90% of the population remains undiagnosed and untreated.


Q. What are the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea?

A. The most common symptoms are loud snoring, waking choking/gasping for air, witnessed apnea by a bed partner, daytime sleepiness, restless sleep, frequent a.m. headaches, hypertension, depression, obesity, sexual dysfunction, irritability, and large neck size (>17 in men & >16 in women).


Q. What should I do if I think I have obstructive sleep apnea syndrome?

A. You should see your doctor and have him or her determine if you need a sleep study.


Q. What is the difference between a hospital based sleep study vs. a home study?

A. Typically in the hospital a technician will monitor you throughout the night and in addition to the parameters measured in a home study, they will also measure your brain waves and leg movements.


Q. How and why would I want to have a home-based study?

A. home-based studies are obviously performed in your home so that you will sleep as you are used to sleeping. This should allow for a more representative sleep study. You can do the study when it is convenient for you and it will most likely be more cost effective.


Q. Does a technician stay in my home and watch me sleep?

A. No, a technician only delivers the equipment to your home or office and shows you how to perform the hook-up and disconnect. If necessary, a technician can come at your bedtime and perform the actual hook-up. The hook-up takes less than ten minutes. If you live outside of San Diego, Sleep Data will arrange to have the recorder delivered and picked up from your home or office. An instructional video will provide you with everything you need to know.


Q. What if I don’t understand the directions for performing the sleep study?

A. A technician is available by pager 24 hours a day, seven days/week. This is a toll free number and most questions can easily be answered over the telephone.


Q. If I am diagnosed with sleep apnea, how long will I have to wait to get treated?

A. The final sleep apnea report will be faxed to your doctor within one week of testing. Once your doctor has the final report, he or she can prescribe the appropriate therapy.


Q. What is the treatment for sleep apnea?

A. The initial treatment of choice for OSAS for the vast majority of OSAS patients is nasal continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). If tolerated, CPAP has very few side effects and can immediately improve OSAS symptoms. Learn more about other treatment options.


Q. How does a CPAP machine work?

A. CPAP works as a pneumatic splint by providing a flow of continuous positive air pressure through a nasal mask to keep the airway open during sleep. Hence, your breathing becomes regular and the snoring is eliminated. Some patients require a nasal-oral mask.


Q. What happens if I don’t get treatment for my sleep apnea? Can this be dangerous?

A. Yes. OSAS is associated with hypertension, accidents, stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and decreased quality of life.