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Obstructive sleep apnea in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Obstructive sleep apnea in Adult

Contributors: Michael W. Winter MD, Paritosh Prasad MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a chronic disorder characterized by inadequate air flow during sleep due to repetitive collapse of the upper airway. Repetitive sleep disruption may result in daytime symptoms and may have long-term hemodynamic consequences. These recurring episodes may involve apnea (>10 seconds of absent airflow) and/or hypopnea. Risk factors include obesity and crowding of the oropharynx, which can be caused by micrognathia, macroglossia, or other anatomic variations. The contribution of smoking, chronic nasal congestion, and/or family history on the development of OSA is unclear.

Signs and symptoms include excessive daytime fatigue, sleep disturbance, headaches, snoring, bradypnea, hypercapnia, hypoxemia, and awakening gasping for breath. OSA poses an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents, cardiovascular disease, and perioperative anesthesia complications.

OSA is a very common disease, with an estimated prevalence of approximately 15%-30% in male individuals and 5%-15% in female individuals depending on the stringency of the definition used.

OSA is a chronic disease, which, if left untreated, can lead to cardiopulmonary complications that can be irreversible. If suspected, it is treatable either through modifiable lifestyle changes, breathing devices, or surgery.


G47.33 – Obstructive sleep apnea (adult) (pediatric)

78275009 – Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome

Look For

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Diagnostic Pearls

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Asthma
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Depressive disorders
  • Narcolepsy
  • Central sleep apnea
  • Insufficient sleep / inadequate sleep hygiene
  • Drug / medication side effect – hypersomnia
  • Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
  • Laryngospasm (Gastroesophageal reflux disease induced)

Best Tests

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Management Pearls

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed:06/18/2018
Last Updated:06/18/2018
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Obstructive sleep apnea in Adult
A medical illustration showing key findings of Obstructive sleep apnea : Apnea, Insomnia, Irritability, Sleep disturbance, Drowsiness, Hypercapnia, Bradypnea, Snoring
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.