Night-time snoring may be straining more than just your relationships - habitual loud snoring can also be a sign of a serious health problem known as sleep apnea. While people who snore do not necessarily have sleep apnea, snoring is most commonly the first symptom that brings people in to their specialist’s office. An individual with sleep apnea may experience periods of no breathing while sleeping due to airway blockage. If left untreated, it can majorly impact one's overall health and, because it deprives a person of oxygen, sleep apnea may even become life threatening. Approximately 90% of people experiencing sleep apnea do not realize that they have it, and accordingly, it is most often a partner or parent who first notices. Some distinctive signs of sleep apnea you may notice in a loved on include:
• Loud snoring
• Choking or gasping noises (to capture air)
• Noticeable silences (due to breaks in breathing)
• Abrupt awakenings
• Waking up in a sweat
Those who suffer from sleep apnea experience short, shallow breathing during sleep, which, as a result, disturbs their body’s ability to rest. Pauses in breathing may occur five to over thirty times an hour, typically lasting ten to twenty seconds each. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type; it restricts your body’s ability to get air to the lungs. When your nose and mouth cannot deliver a proper amount of air, your carbon dioxide and oxygen levels are disrupted. Your body reacts by signaling the brain to wake up so that normal breathing can resume. Many people do not recall these wakening episodes in the morning; however, the repeated loss of oxygen is serious and the entire process exhausts your body. You may experience sleep apnea for various reasons, although there are certain factors that increase your risks. Causes and risk factors for sleep apnea include:
• Deviated septum
• Relaxed throat muscles (resulting from alcohol, sedatives or age)
• Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
• Genetic predispositions
Sleep apnea is estimated to affect 2-4% of adults and develops in over 1% of the population each year. Although sleep apnea can be difficult to notice, some symptoms you may recognize in yourself include:
• Difficulty sleeping
• Morning headaches
• Dry throat upon awakening
• Daytime drowsiness (hypersomnia)
• Memory loss or learning problems
• Inability to concentrate
• Diagnosed high blood pressure and/or heart disease
A sleep lab is typically used to diagnose sleep apnea. Your doctor is trained to read the results of a sleep tests and explain the findings to you. Sleep testing allows your doctor to understand your breathing patterns, which may bot be visibly observable during sleep. Recommendations for treatment will be made based on the results of your sleep test along with your unique sleeping considerations.
Following your sleep test, a variety of options are available to treat your sleep apnea. We offer C-PAP device treatments as well as a number of surgical interventions.
Currently, C-PAP is the most commonly recommended treatment, which supplies pressurized air to the lungs. A facial mask is worn and attached to a small external unit which delivers a constant supply of air. Much advancement has been made in C-PAP machines, allowing the unit to be customized for optimal usability and comfort.
Surgery for sleep apnea increases your airways to make breathing easier. Surgeons may perform work on your throat, nose, tonsils, adenoids and/or jaw. Surgery is an effective method for relieving many symptoms associated with sleep apnea.