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What is Sleep Apnea?

woman yawningIn recent years, sleep apnea is becoming a familiar topic of conversation in the media. As awareness grows, more and more people are wondering if they may have the condition. So, what is sleep apnea and how do you know if you have it?

Sleep Apnea Basics

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that is related to pauses in breathing during your sleep. If your sleep apnea is left untreated, your brain might not get the oxygen that it needs, and you may experience some serious side-effects such as cardiovascular issues, high blood pressure, increased risk of accidents and memory loss.

People of all ages suffer from sleep apnea, but once you reach age 40, your risk increases. Men are also more likely to have sleep apnea, but women can have it, as well. Having a family history, being overweight, or suffering from allergies, a deviated septum or sinus problems, also increase the chances that you’ll end up with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is caused by airflow obstruction during sleep. Snoring is the most common complaint from those with sleep apnea, but it is not the only indicator. In some cases, sufferers don’t even realize that they have symptoms, which are noticed by their bed partners. Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Frequent, loud snoring
  • Gasping or feeling short of breath during sleep
  • Making choking or snorting sounds
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Waking frequently

Do You Have Sleep Apnea?

If you are experiencing any or all of the symptoms listed above, you may be wondering if you have sleep apnea. The condition can be diagnosed by a board certified otolaryngologist (ENT doctor). After an initial consultation, a sleep study will help the doctor determine if you have sleep apnea. Traditionally, these studies are conducted in a sleep lab, but some patients may be able to complete their sleep study at home, using a special device that collects sleep data. The information gathered will be used to figure out what factors are causing your sleep problems and how severe they are.

What are the Treatment Options?

One of the most commonly prescribed treatments for sleep apnea is the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device. This non-invasive option delivers positive pressure, using a mask, while you are asleep. Unfortunately, the mask is uncomfortable for some, and only about half of those who are prescribed CPAP treatment are actually compliant.

As technology has advanced, so has the treatment of sleep apnea. Luckily, CPAP treatment is no longer the only option for sleep apnea sufferers. From oral appliances to minor surgical procedures, there are now many treatments that can help to relieve your symptoms. Several new and minimally-invasive procedures are now available to combat sleep apnea. Most of these procedures can be conducted in-office under local anesthesia. You may even be able to resume your normal activities the same day. The type of treatment that will work best for you will depend on the type, severity, and source of your sleep apnea.

Taking the First Steps

If you think you may have sleep apnea, you should consult a doctor as soon as possible. The longer you go untreated, the higher your risk of developing serious medical complications. The board certified otolaryngologists at eos sleep will work closely with you to get to the root of your sleep issues and will develop a personalized treatment plan that will fit with your needs and lifestyle. Our goal is to provide effective, long-term relief for your snoring or related sleep problems, so that you can stay healthy and rest easy. To request your appointment, simply complete our secure web form.

In The Media