What is OSA?

OSA is a condition which affects approximately 5% of the population, but which often goes undiagnosed. If you have OSA with symptoms, so called Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS), and it is not treated, this can be very dangerous to your health. It can significantly reduce your quality of life and, when causing sleepiness or related symptoms, can be a risk factor for road traffic accidents. Sleepiness is implicated as a major contributory factor in up to 20% of motorway traffic accidents, and is associated with an increase in the severity of an accident, as driver reactions are impaired.

Is Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome (OSAS) different to OSA?

OSAS is a more serious form of OSA where there is evidence of both a disruption of normal breathing patterns during sleep, and symptoms such as excessive sleepiness in the daytime. OSAS occurs in approximately a quarter of those with OSA.

If you suffer from OSAS, the pauses in breathing can happen hundreds of times a night, which most of the time you won’t be aware of. This means you’re getting less of the restorative kind of sleep required to enable you to work with the levels of energy and concentration. As a result, OSAS may affect your ability to drive safely (see OSA and driving page for more details).

 


"Increased awareness of the clinical features and prompt treatment of sleep apnoea is one way to save lives and health care related expenditure". Martin Allen, Consultant Physician, previously National Clinical Lead for Sleep Apnoea.