Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the throat tissues don't just vibrate together but actually block off the throat during sleep. This is generally seen by the bed partner as loud snoring that alternates with periods of breathing pauses which are often accompanied by a heaving chest. The breathing pauses are usually ended by a loud snort or gasp, and then breathing resumes, only to have this cycle repeat again. By definition, OSA is diagnosed when such episodes last 10 seconds or more and occur five or more times per hour of sleep for adults, and two or more times per hour for children.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed by a sleep study, or polysomnogram (PSG), which documents how significant the problem is and can exclude other sleep-related disorders. Depending upon the situation, the PSG can be done in one of the area's excellent sleep disorders centers or sometimes in the home. CENTA's physicians work with all of the local hospitals' sleep labs and their medical directors, and offer several types of home sleep studies in selected situations. They will discuss the merits of these choices with you, order the chosen study, and help you understand the results before planning treatment.