Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the “big guy” that gets all the press. OSA is when a person is actively trying to breathe, but there is an obstruction that is preventing air from getting into the lungs. This can be the Uvula, Tongue, or the upper airway collapsing. It isn’t the same for everyone, but the result is the same.
Eventually the blood oxygen levels (SpO2) drops, heart rate spikes, and the patient will wake gasping for air. Often the awakening isn’t remembered and they go right back to sleep only to repeat this repeatedly throughout the night. This can be successfully treated with CPAP.
Below is a one minute picture of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The belts that are around the chest and abdomen are still moving indicating they are trying to breathe. “Flow” is the sensor that shows breathing. Near the end of this page you see the snore signal increase, the C3,C4,O1, and O2 signals speed up, and the Chin electrodes (EMG2-EMG3) increase. The breathing also resumes at this point. The oxygen level drops 4%.
The next image is a two minute window showing Obstructive sleep apnea as well. Click on the image for a faster loading, but grainy picture. Or click on the Blue icons for the same picture in a much higher resolution. Keep clicking on the images to enlarge. Below we even have a video to help explain what is going on.