What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that causes a person to stop breathing intermittently throughout the night. Some of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, insomnia, morning headaches, dry mouth and attention problems. Hypersomnia, or excessive daytime sleepiness is another one of the common symptoms of sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be classified as obstructive, central or mixed. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the upper airways become completely or partially blocked. If the brain does not send the proper signals to the breathing muscles, then central sleep apnea can occur. Some patients have a combination of central and obstructive sleep apnea, which is known as mixed sleep apnea.

What Risk Factors Are Associated with Sleep Apnea?

Anyone can develop sleep apnea. In fact, sleep apnea has even been diagnosed in children. However, some people have a higher chance of developing it than others. Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea. It is also more common in people who are overweight. Additionally, smokers and people who drink alcohol in excess are more likely to develop sleep apnea.

Are You Having Complications While Sleeping?

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, we recommend you see our ENT physician, Dr. Jones, as soon as possible. Sleep apnea can result in many serious complications if it is left untreated. Some of those complications include high blood pressure, liver problems and depression. There has also been evidence to suggest that sleep apnea can increase the risk of early death. Fortunately, these complications can be prevented with sleep apnea testing and treatment.

Sleep Apnea Testing & Treatment

There are a variety of ways our ENT physician can diagnose sleep apnea. Dr. Jones will likely ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing. A sleep apnea test, which is also known as a polysomnogram, may also be recommended. This test is usually performed at a sleep center, but it can also be performed in a person’s home. A polysomnogram measures eye movement, brain activity, breathing, heart rate and snoring activity.

There are several ways sleep apnea can be treated. The appropriate treatment will not only help you stop snoring, but it will also help prevent sleep apnea from occurring. In many cases, mild sleep apnea can be alleviated with lifestyle changes. Exercising, not smoking and eating right can help treat and prevent sleep apnea.

If lifestyle changes do not work, then our ENT physician may recommend using a continuous positive airway pressure machine, which is also known as a CPAP machine. It helps you stop snoring and keeps the airways open by delivering airway pressure. This treatment is very effective, but many people find that the machine to be bothersome. 

Physicians often recommend oral appliances to patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP machine. Oral appliances also help keep the airway open. If other treatments fail, then surgery may be performed.

For problems with snoring in your sleep and waking yourself up or just having difficulty breathing while you sleep, then we recommend you contact our office today to get a consultation scheduled to see Dr. Jones for testing, a diagnosis and treatment options.