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The body relies on oxygen to survive, carrying it through the airways to the lungs, to pass into the bloodstream for vital organs and functions. Obstructive sleep apnea, (known as OSA) – places the body under intense stress, depriving essential systems of oxygen and risking further health complications for the patient.

Apnea’s Link to Breathing Issues During Sleep

Apneic episodes are caused by the narrowing or collapsing of the airway, which can happen frequently during the night. This is due to the muscles of the throat and airway relaxing causing partial or full obstruction, blocking air flow to the lungs. Although a patient’s breathing may return to normal periodically whilst sleeping, the repeated disruption often leaves lingering effects the following day.

This is caused by reduced levels of oxygen and a raised concentration of carbon dioxide in the blood, which then compromises the brain’s ability to function normally – resulting in the following common symptoms of sleep apnea: morning headaches, low mood, and memory loss.

How Does Apnea Lower the Body’s Oxygen Levels?

There are two ways sleep apnea can impact the oxygen levels in the body, through apneas or hypopneas. Both can influence oxygen levels in the blood, leading to additional health complications and symptoms if left untreated.

An Apnea is When a Patient Stops Breathing Entirely

Common with OSA, the obstruction in the respiratory system completely blocks the airway, preventing normal gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide from taking place in the lungs. This block in the airways stops the person from being able to breathe for a short period of time, restricting the flow of fresh oxygen entering the lungs and preventing waste carbon dioxide from being exhaled.

An Apnea is When a Patient Stops Breathing Entirely

Common with OSA, the obstruction in the respiratory system completely blocks the airway, preventing normal gaseous exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide from taking place in the lungs. This block in the airways stops the person from being able to breathe for a short period of time, restricting the flow of fresh oxygen entering the lungs and preventing waste carbon dioxide from being exhaled. Consequently, sleep apnea oxygen levels in the blood can decrease significantly during these episodes.

A Hypopnea Reduces the Airflow

A partial obstruction that does not stop airflow, but will reduce the amount of oxygen passing through the airway to the lungs, which can cause shallow breathing. Although hypopnea causes similar issues to an apnea episode, the effects are less intense, but can still cause similar medical complications when experienced frequently for long periods of time.

What is Oxygen Saturation

Maintaining adequate oxygen levels in the blood (known as oxygen saturation) is an important element of the normal day-to-day functions of the body. It is represented as a percentage, which shows the level of red blood cells in your circulation that are fully saturated with oxygen.

A normal oxygen saturation reading is 95-100%. This level of oxygen in the body’s circulation provides organs, tissues, and cells with enough oxygen to work effectively.

The Dangers of Lowering Oxygen Levels and Desaturation

Oxygen saturation fluctuates throughout the day, measuring between 95-100% in saturation for healthy individuals. This may drop slightly during sleep, but should not pass below 90%. For apnea patients, sleep apnea oxygen levels may change vastly throughout the night, improving between apnea episodes but decreasing as low as 70% in extreme cases.

Understanding Oxygen Levels and Their Severity For Apnea Patients

Oxygen desaturation can range from mild to life-threatening, with anything below 90% considered medically harmful, 88% being a danger to health, and 84% requiring medical intervention. Monitoring sleep apnea oxygen levels is crucial as they often drop during apnea events.

This is why finding effective treatments for apnea is an important part of managing the condition, reducing the frequency of breathing disruptions, and improving overall oxygen levels for better overall health.

The Dangers of Lowering Oxygen Levels and Desaturation

Oxygen saturation fluctuates throughout the day, measuring between 95-100% in saturation for healthy individuals. This may drop slightly during sleep, but should not pass below 90%. For apnea patients, these levels may change vastly throughout the night, improving between apnea episodes but decreasing as low as 70% in extreme cases.

Understanding Oxygen Levels and Their Severity For Apnea Patients

Oxygen desaturation can range from mild to life-threatening, with anything below 90% considered medically harmful, 88% being a danger to health, and 84% requiring medical intervention.

This is why finding effective treatments for apnea is an important part of managing the condition, reducing the frequency of breathing disruptions, and improving overall oxygen levels for better overall health.

Measuring Oxygen Desaturation

An overnight pulse oximeter test can be used to screen for sleep apnea, as well as check if a patient’s oxygen levels are maintained at consistent, healthy levels. The test measures the amount of oxygen in the blood, using the Oxygen Desaturation Index (ODI) for reference figures that highlight issues with oxygen intake. 

This recording is commonly used as part of the comprehensive apnea screenings provided in-clinic (polysomnography) and Home Testing Devices such as the WatchPAT used by the Sleep Cycle Center team. 

How Does the WatchPat Detect Oxygen Levels For Sleep Cycle Patients?

The WatchPat home testing device is a convenient and reliable screening method used to detect apnea episodes in patients from the comfort of their homes. The test reviews a range of data and measurements in the body, including changes in blood oxygen levels through the built-in pulse oximeter through a small clip placed on the finger.

Contact the Sleep Cycle Center For Reliable and Comfortable Apnea Screenings

If you are concerned that you may have sleep apnea, or suspect your ongoing sleep condition may be impacting your health, our Sleep Cycle Center team can provide support in helping you manage your sleep apnea. We are dedicated to convenient and reliable screening methods, including pulse oximeter testing, and alternative treatments and therapies such as lifestyle changes and dental appliances.

Our free Sleep Assessment Form is over 90% successful at identifying individuals who have sleep apnea within 48 hours Follow the link to get started [https://www.sleepcyclecenters.com/sleep-assessment/] or Call our team to find out more.