Sleep Breathing Disorders: the difference between UARS and OSA

What is the difference between UARS and OSA?

One of the key differences between upper airway resistance syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea is that apneas (pauses in breathing) and hypopneas (decreases in breathing) are either absent or very low in patients with UARS.

Patients with OSA are often overweight or obese (although they can be of normal weight), whereas patients with UARS are often of average weight.

OSA is twice as likely to affect men as women, while UARS can affect men and women equally.

Obstructive sleep apnea is related to many more long-term health conditions as a result of apneas and hypopneas due to the decrease in blood pressure during apnea/hypopnea events, which can lead to increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, heart arrhythmias, stroke, and heart failure.

Patients who fail to treat UARS can end up developing OSA and find themselves at risk for many health problems.

People do not wake up one morning suddenly afflicted with obstructive sleep apnea. Rather, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is believed to be a progressive disorder that lies on the extreme end of a spectrum of sleeps disordered breathing.

At the other end of the spectrum is benign snoring–snoring that has no impact on sleep health other than possibly disrupting one's bed partner's sleep. When the causes of snoring begin to progress from relatively harmless noise-making to the harmful sleep disorder of sleep apnea, it often first develops into upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS).

Sharon Izak Elaine Chat staff