The National Institute of Health reports 12 million cases of diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). But a large percentage of cases go undiagnosed, making the number much higher. Conservative estimates project 7% of the US population, more than 42 million people, mostly adults, suffer from OSA.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when normal sleep breathing is interrupted by airway blockage. An airway blockage can happen when bands of relaxed soft tissue narrow or close the back of the throat during sleep. Snoring and/or awakening frequently during the night with a gasp for air is an indication of sleep apnea.
Some obvious problems associated with a sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) include poor general health, difficulty performing tasks at work, and other lifestyle compromises. What’s less obvious: When untreated, OSA can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, and congestive heart failure), emotional problems such as depression, diabetes, and chronic headaches.