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Sleep Apnea Syndrome


Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is also called sleep apnea. It is a condition where you stop breathing for 10 seconds or more while you sleep. During normal sleep, your throat is kept open by muscles, which let the air pass through easily. During sleep with OSAS, the muscles and tissues around your throat relax and block air from passing through. OSAS often happens many times while you sleep. You may wake up during the night to catch your breath. You may feel tired and sleepy the next day, and you may have a hard time doing your usual activities.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • Treatment for OSAS may make your nose bleed or run. Your mouth, nose, and throat may feel dry. Your stomach may feel bloated and you may burp often. The CPAP or mouth device may feel uncomfortable. If you have surgery, you may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Nerves and tissues in your mouth may also get damaged during surgery. Your OSAS may come back after treatment.
  • Without treatment, you will continue to feel sleepy and tired. Because of this, you may have an increased risk of accidents when you drive or operate dangerous equipment. You may have a hard time focusing on tasks, thinking, learning, and remembering things. You may have problems with your blood sugar levels and develop diabetes. You will have an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart problems. You may have irregular heartbeats and feel pain in your chest at night. You may have a life-threatening heart attack or stroke.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • An EKG test records your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats.
  • An endoscopy is a test that uses a scope to look at the inside of your throat. A scope is made of a long, bendable tube with a light on the end of it. A camera may be hooked to the scope to take pictures. During an endoscopy, healthcare providers may see if there are any problems in your throat causing your OSAS.
  • Overnight oximetry is a test that uses a device called a pulse oximeter. The device will monitor how much oxygen is in your blood throughout the night while you sleep. A wire from the device will be attached to your ear, finger, or toe using a clip or sticky tape.
  • Sleep studies are also called polysomnography. They can help healthcare providers see how your brain, heart, and respiratory system are working during sleep. Sleep studies may monitor the stages of sleep, oxygen levels, body position, eye movement, and snoring.
  • X-rays of your skull, jaw, or teeth may be taken. X-rays may show what is causing your OSAS.


  • A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is used to keep your airway open during sleep. A mask is placed over your nose and mouth, or just your nose. The mask is hooked to the CPAP machine. The CPAP blows a gentle stream of air into the mask when you breathe. This helps keep your airway open so you can breathe more regularly. Extra oxygen may be given to you through the machine.
  • A mouth device may be recommended by your healthcare provider. The device looks like a mouth guard or dental retainer. It stops your tongue and mouth tissues from blocking your throat while you sleep.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove extra tissues that block your mouth, throat, or nose.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.