Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans, and if you suffer from this disorder, your symptoms can get even worse in the spring.
In this blog, the board-certified ear, nose, and throat doctors at eos sleep explain why sleep apnea can get worse during spring – and what you can do about it.
What is sleep apnea?
This is a serious disorder that causes repeated pauses in breathing while you sleep. These pauses can occur hundreds of times a night, affecting the quality of your sleep as well as your overall health and well-being.
The most common type, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is caused by a blockage in your airway.
This disorder affects more than 18 million people in the U.S. This number may be higher as more people may actually have it because it often goes undiagnosed. You may not even be aware that your breathing is pausing and restarting since you may not fully awaken when it’s happening.
Do the seasons affect your symptoms?
Spring can be a prime season for allergies, which can cause allergic rhinitis. This occurs when you breathe in allergens such as pollen or molds and you have an allergic reaction that causes your nasal passages to become irritated and swollen.
Allergic rhinitis has been linked to sleep apnea because it causes the upper airway to narrow, interfering with the uninterrupted flow of air.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
This sleep disorder affects your overall well-being, including some ways that you might not suspect. The disorder can cause the following symptoms:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Increased risk of driving or work-related accidents
- Lack of concentration and memory issues
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease, including heart attacks, irregular heartbeats, and heart failure
What treatment options are available?
Lifestyle changes such as the following can improve your symptoms:
- Losing weight if you need to
- Avoiding alcohol and sedatives
- Quitting smoking
- Sleeping on your side instead of on your back
- Using allergy medication or nasal sprays if directed by your doctor
In addition, the following forms of treatment are often recommended. Your doctor’s specific recommendations will depend on the severity of your disorder as well as its underlying cause.
One or more of the following treatments may be recommended:
- CPAP – A continuous positive airway pressure machine uses a gentle flow of air delivered via hoses and a mask that fits over your nose and/or mouth. This helps keep your airways open.
- Oral appliances – Similar to sports mouth guards, custom-made oral appliances are worn at night and gently move your jaw and/or tongue to keep your airway open.
- Surgery – More conservative options are tried first, but if they’re not providing enough relief, surgery may be an option. This is especially true if an underlying structural issue is causing your issues. Many procedures are minimally invasive and use technology such as radio-frequency energy or lasers to remove blockages. This can help correct the underlying cause of your sleep apnea to provide long-term relief.
If you’re experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness, chronic snoring, or another symptom of a sleep disorder, schedule a consultation with the sleep specialists at eos sleep today. We’ll conduct a thorough evaluation and get the information we need to confirm or rule out the presence of sleep apnea. If you do have this disorder, we’ll recommend the least-invasive treatments to achieve the best possible results.