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Dec 5, 2012

Using data from a national database the authors analyzed more than 8 million ambulatory health care encounters for adults with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  Although OSA affects up to 7% of adults in the United States, only 10% of ambulatory health care visits studied were associated with otolaryngologic care.  This presents an opportunity for increased awareness of OSA and the unique role of otolaryngologists in management.  OSA was significantly associated with commonly encountered comorbid conditions, including obesity, asthma, depression, and hypertension.  Otolaryngologists who diagnose and treat patients with OSA should be aware of increased risk for these background conditions since their presence could impact therapeutic outcomes.  Clinicians in general are likely to see more OSA patients given the rising prevalence of obesity and the aging of the population, since elderly patients are more likely to have the multiple chronic conditions associated with an increased risk for OSA.