Obstructive sleep apnea: a growing problem

Ochsner J. 2009 Fall;9(3):149-53.


Obstructive sleep apnea is an underrecognized and underdiagnosed medical condition, with a myriad of negative consequences on patients' health and society as a whole. Symptoms include daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and restless sleep. While the "gold standard" of diagnosis is by polysomnography, a detailed history and focused physical examination may help uncover previously undiagnosed cases. Undetected obstructive sleep apnea can lead to hypertension, heart disease, depression, and even death. Several modalities exist for treating obstructive sleep apnea, including continuous positive airway pressure, oral appliances, and several surgical procedures. However, conservative approaches, such as weight loss and alcohol and tobacco cessation, are also strongly encouraged in the patient with obstructive sleep apnea. With increased awareness, both the medical community and society as a whole can begin to address this disease and help relieve the negative sequelae that result from it.

Keywords: Apnea; continuous positive airway pressure; polysomnography; snoring; uvulopalatopharyngoplasty.