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Sleep Apnea - What Is It?

Are you concerned that you or your partner has sleep apnea? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine provides this definition:

“Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that involves a decrease or complete halt in airflow despite an ongoing effort to breathe. It occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, causing the soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse and block the upper airway. This leads to partial reductions (hypopneas) and complete pauses (apneas) in breathing that last at least 10 seconds during sleep. Most pauses last between 10 and 30 seconds, but some may persist for one minute or longer. This can lead to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation, with oxygen falling as much as 40% or more in severe cases.

The brain responds to the lack of oxygen by alerting the body, causing a brief arousal from sleep that restores normal breathing. This pattern can occur hundreds of times in one night. The result is a fragmented quality of sleep that often produces an excessive level of daytime sleepiness.

Most people with OSA snore loudly and frequently, with periods of silence when airflow is reduced or blocked. They then make choking, snorting or gasping sounds when their airway reopens.”

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Handles Problems Right Away

"I was not allowed to leave hospital until I had oxygen set-up in my home. I called two other oxygen providers on a list and they were very nice until I told them where I lived. It was very frustrating and frightening, but things changed when I called HorizonAire. They gave me hope and assured me that it would be okay. A short time later the oxygen equipment came and I could go home. With HorizonAire, I know if I have a problem, they will handle it right away. Thank you HorizonAire." 

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Helped Me Improve my Health

"I did not realize how my sleep apnea was affecting my life until visiting HorizonAire. Now my family notices the difference in my energy, moods and most of all, my health. Without a CPAP machine, I believe I would have become very ill. The great staff at HorizonAire helped me realize I needed medical help!"

– Simon D.

Risk Groups

Risk Groups

In helping to assess your risk for OSA, several factors increase your likelihood of developing the condition:

  • Being overweight (Body Mass Index of 25 — 29.9) or obese (Body Mass Index of 30 and above)
  • Large neck size — 17 inches or more for men; 16 inches or more for women
  • Middle aged or older men; post-menopausal women
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Abnormalities of the bony and soft tissue structure of the head and neck
  • Down Syndrome (adults and children)
  • Children with large tonsils and adenoids
  • Having a family member with OSA
  • Endocrine disorders such as Acromegaly and Hypothyroidism
  • Smoking
  • Nocturnal nasal congestion due to abnormal morphology, rhinitis or both

People with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure or Parkinson’s disease may be at an increased risk of also having Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). In addition, other health issues such as asthma, prior stroke and some hormonal disorders can also increase one’s risk of developing OSA.


If any of the following symptoms sound familiar, you may suffer from a sleep-related disorder:


  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Morning headaches
  • Frequent waking during the night
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Difficulty in concentrating during the day
  • Irritability


If you've answered yes to any of these questions, please take one or both of the tests below. These questionnaires are used by some doctors to screen patients for sleep disorders. You can fill them out and see the results to assess your score. If necessary, you should share your results with your doctor.

Self Test

Print and fill out our Patient Sleep Questionaire below.


Epworth Sleepiness Scale

How likely are you to doze off or fall asleep in the following situations, in contrast to feeling just tired? This refers to your usual way of life in recent times. Even if you have not done some of these things recently, try to work out how they would have affected you. Use the following scale to choose the most appropriate number for each situation:

0=would never doze
1=slight chance of dozing
2=moderate chance of dozing
3=high chance of dozing

Patient Sleep Questionaire

Add your numbers for each situation together to get your total score. Total possible score = 24. If your total is greater than 10 you require further assessment.



There exists a high prevalence of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) throughout the general population, a significant proportion of which remains undiagnosed. Another form for screening for OSA is the STOP-BANG Scoring Model; as noted here.


Home Sleep Study

If you are concerned that you or someone you know has Sleep Apnea, the next step is to be properly evaluated by a medical professional. HorizoneAire makes it easy to complete an overnight sleep screening test - right in the comfort of your home. The test is free and you do not need a referral from your doctor. Simply contact HorizonAire to arrange a convenient appointment time. Our sleep screening diagnostic device can be used at home and will provide your doctor with the information needed to determine if you have a sleep disorder and what to do next.


Your results will determine if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and if so, to what degree:

  • Mild OSA (AH1 of 5-15): Involuntary sleepiness during activities that require little attention, such as watching TV or reading
  • Moderate OSA (AHI of 15-30): Involuntary sleepiness during activities that require some attention, such as meetings or presentations
  • Severe OSA (AHI of more than 30): Involuntary sleepiness during activities that require more active attention, such as talking or driving

AHI refers to Apnea-Hypopnea Index, an average that represents the combined number of apneas and hypopneas that occur per hour of sleep.

ApneaLink Air Home Sleep Test Tutorial


Everyone deserves a good night's sleep!


If your overnight sleep study indicates that you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), then you may be prescribed Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. A CPAP machine is one of the most common and effective treatments of OSA. CPAP machines in St. John’s help provide a steady stream of pressurized air to patients through a mask that they wear during sleep. This airflow helps keep the airway open, preventing pauses in breathing and restoring normal oxygen levels. Patients can choose from numerous mask sizes and styles to achieve a good fit. Heated humidifiers that connect to CPAP units contribute to patient comfort.

When you are ready to be set up with the CPAP therapy device, a trained Respiratory Therapist from HorizonAire will provide complete education on the equipment and answer your questions. We'll ensure that you understand exactly how to use your device for the best results.

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