Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing throughout the sleep cycle.
These interruptions, called apneas, are caused by the collapse of soft tissue in the airway, which prevents oxygen from reaching the lungs.
Obstructive sleep apnea
When these apneas happen mostly when you’re on your back, it is called positional obstructive sleep apnea (positional OSA). This is different from other types of obstructive sleep apnea and has its own treatment options, including using a device that helps you to sleep in the right position.
Positional obstructive sleep apnea
When you sleep on your back, your airway may be blocked, which can disrupt breathing.
When you sleep on your side, your airway is clear, which allows for easy breathing.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and experience twice as many apneic events on your back than you do on your side, you may have positional OSA.
Positional OSA can occur in nearly half of all people with OSA.4
If you have positional OSA, sleeping on your side can significantly reduce symptoms.
Ask your doctor if your sleep study reveals that you have positional OSA.
Find out if you have symptoms of sleep apnea
Snoring could be more than annoying – it could be a danger to your health. Take our 9-question quiz to find out if you’re at risk.
Obstructive sleep apnea may not only be affecting you, but also could be affecting your loved ones. Learn how sleep apnea can influence people just like you.
About 10% of the adult population in the world suffers from sleep apnea, and about 90% of them have not been diagnosed.1 In the US, 7% of men are living with sleep apnea. 5% of women are living with sleep apnea. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Frost and Sullivan report from 2016, approximately 12% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, at least 29.4 million adults in the U.S. - 80% of which go undiagnosed.
That’s significant because sleep apnea is a serious condition. Sleep apnea disrupts the sleep cycle and can dramatically impact energy, mental performance and long-term health. In some cases, if left untreated, sleep apnea can be fatal.
It can be hard to take the first steps into finding out if you have sleep apnea.
Sleep studies are simple and painless, and resulting treatment can be life changing. A sleep study takes place overnight in a sleep lab or in your home, depending on your health history and your insurance.
The Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) is the most important number on your sleep apnea test. It measures the number of times you have an apnea (when you stop breathing for a short time) or hypopnea (when you partially stop breathing for a short time) while you’re asleep.
What determines if you have positional obstructive sleep apnea? Positional obstructive sleep apnea is defined as having two times or greater the AHI when sleeping on your back as opposed to when you are on your side.5
Understanding your sleep study results
Your doctor ordered an overnight sleep study (also called a polysomnogram or PSG) either in a sleep center or your home, to determine if you have sleep apnea. After you complete the sleep study, your doctor will give you the results and discuss what to do next.
You may be given a copy of your sleep study report. The report is going to include information on how you slept such as: how long you slept, your Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) or how many times you stopped or partially stopped breathing and if your oxygen is saturated. The defining numbers of OSA are based upon your AHI. Alternatively, if your numbers fluctuate between sleeping on your side versus on your back, you may have Positional Sleep Apnea (POSA), defined as AHIsupine ≥ 2 x AHInon-supine.2
Philips is a proud sponsor of the American Sleep Association
The primary mission of American Sleep Association is to improve public health by increasing awareness about the importance of sleep and the dangers of sleep disorders.
ASA was founded in 2002 by sleep professionals as a member-driven public awareness effort. ASA believes that every member of the community (physician, scientist, allied health care, technologist, patient, family member, and corporate partner) can make a positive impact in this effort. Over the past decade, the ASA has helped to educate millions of people on the importance of sleep health and the recognition of sleep disorders.
Medicare, as well as most insurance companies, will provide payment for a medically-indicated sleep study. While sleep studies have traditionally been performed in a sleep lab during an overnight stay, Medicare and many other insurance companies now also pay for in-home sleep studies used to diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
It is important to contact your insurance company to determine if they will be paying for an in-lab or in-home sleep study and to understand any deductible or co-payment amounts that will be your responsibility to pay.
Medicare and most other insurance companies will pay for a CPAP or bi-level device and related accessories and supplies, provided that specific coverage criteria are met. Coverage criteria is documented by, but is not limited to, the following:
Qualifying sleep study
Diagnosis of OSA
Prescription from your treating physician detailing needed equipment and supplies
Physician chart notes
Your insurance company and your durable medical equipment (DME) supplier will be able to assist you in understanding what is covered, what documentation is required, and any financial responsibility you may have, such as deductibles or co-payments
Frequently asked questions
What is obstructive sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly through the night. Breathing stops because the throat or “airway” collapses and prevents air from getting into the lungs. Sleep patterns are disrupted, resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.
How many people in the United States have sleep apnea?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine Frost and Sullivan report from 2016, approximately 12% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, at least 29.4 million adults in the U.S. - 80% of which go undiagnosed.
What causes the airway to close during sleep?
- Extra tissue in the back of the airway, such as large tonsils
- Decrease in the tone of the muscles that hold the airway open
- The tongue falling back and closing off the airway
What should you do if you think you may have sleep apnea?
Evaluation by a doctor specializing in sleep disorders is recommended. Have a sleep study done. A sleep study can provide the doctor with information about how you sleep and breathe. This information will help the doctor to determine your diagnosis and treatment options.
What are the risks of untreated sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can have serious short- and long-term health risks if left untreated, including:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Heart disease / heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- Driving- and work-related accidents
What is the treatment for sleep apnea?
Most commonly, positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy is the treatment. It is noninvasive and can help with symptoms when used as prescribed. Less commonly, surgery or oral appliances are used, which may be effective in certain cases. Any treatment plan should include weight loss if needed, exercise and avoiding alcohol, sedatives and hypnotics.
How does PAP or CPAP therapy work?
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) provides a gentle flow of positive-pressure air through a facial mask to keep the airway open during sleep. As a result:
- Breathing becomes regular during sleep
- Snoring stops
- Restful sleep is restored
- Quality of life is improved
- Risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, heart attack, stroke and motor vehicle and work accidents are reduced
What are the nighttime symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Loud or disruptive snoring
- Witnessed pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Restless sleep
- Frequent visits to the bathroom
What are the daytime symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Early morning headaches
- Excessive daytime fatigue
- Poor concentration
- Depression or irritability
- Falling asleep during routine activities
What can put you at increased risk for sleep apnea?