Sleep Apnea / Obstructive Sleep Apnea
People with sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea stop or pause their breathing while they sleep, dozens or hundreds of times each night. When this happens, you may snore loudly or making choking noises as you try to breathe. This potentially life–threatening condition often causes loud snoring and feeling tired after a full night’s sleep. Age and obesity are the main risk factors and the condition is more common in men, but many younger people who are within a normal weight range are also at risk. Untreated chronic sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea can lead to stroke or a heart attack as the brain does not get enough oxygen during sleep.
Sleep Apnea Q & A
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that involves the interruption of normal breathing—it stops and starts during sleep. There are three main kinds: obstructive type (most common type), central type, and complex sleep apnea syndrome.
The symptoms of the obstructive and central sleep apnea types include:
- Loud snoring (more common in obstructive sleep apnea)
- Having episodes when breathing stops witnessed by another person
- Awakening abruptly with shortness of breath (more common in central sleep apnea)
- Having headaches in the morning
- Having difficulty staying asleep
- Feeling very sleepy during the daytime
- Having attention problems
- Feeling irritable
- Awakening with dry mouth or a sore throat
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Sadly for the millions of Americans who are living with this undetected condition, sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Your primary care doctor will not be able to detect the symptoms of sleep apnea because they occur during sleep. Even you may be unaware of the signs. Most cases are brought to light because of a partner or family member who witnesses the symptoms.
To diagnose the condition, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms as well as gain information about your medical history, family history, medications, and lifestyle. In general, two tests are used to diagnose sleep apnea. You might have to come into the clinic for overnight monitoring with nocturnal polysomnography, which is a test that uses equipment to monitor different bodily functions while you sleep. Your doctor may also recommend home sleep testing, which is an at-home test that monitors these functions.
How can sleep apnea be treated?
Our board-certified physicians will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan for sleep apnea. There are many treatment options to choose from. These may include weight management, positional therapy in which you are trained to sleep on your side, lifestyle changes such as avoiding alcohol near bedtime, a continuous positive airway pressure machine, oral appliance therapy, or surgery.