What Doctor Should I See for Sleep Apnea?
If your partner frequently complains of your loud snoring and you always feel sleepy during the day, you may have sleep apnea.
In this blog, the board-certified sleep doctors at eos sleep explain what doctor you should see if you suspect you may have sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when you have repeated pauses in breathing during sleep. Your brain may sense that you’re having trouble breathing and briefly awaken you so your airway reopens.
This is often so brief that you won’t fully realize it’s happening, but the entire process can cause snoring and increase your risk of other serious health issues, such as heart attacks and stroke.
When should I see a doctor?
You should see a doctor if you’re having any of the following symptoms:
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Chronic loud snoring
- Insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep)
- Unexplained symptoms such as morning headaches or a sore throat in the morning
- Stoppages of breathing during sleep witnessed by someone else
- Waking up with shortness of breath or gasping or choking sounds
What doctor should I see for my sleep apnea?
If you suspect you may have symptoms of sleep apnea, it’s best to see a doctor who’s a sleep specialist. This type of doctor is board-certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine after receiving specific training and passing an exam.
Many sleep medicine doctors also have another medical specialty that’s related to the field, such as otolaryngology (concerns related to the ear, nose, or throat).
Sleep specialists can also focus on a particular type of disorder, such as sleep apnea. It helps to choose a sleep doctor who has extensive experience and offers many types of treatment for your type of condition.
What is involved?
When you see a sleep apnea doctor, he or she will talk to you about your medical history and any medications you may take. You’ll discuss the symptoms that have caused you to make an appointment, as well as any others you may be experiencing.
Your doctor will probably also conduct a sleep study, a non-invasive painless test that can be performed at home. As you sleep, the machine will record information about your breathing, movements, the oxygen levels in your blood, and more about the changes that occur in your body during sleep. You’ll return the machine to your doctor, who will analyze the results and confirm or rule out the presence of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea.
Once a diagnosis is made, your sleep apnea doctor will recommend the least invasive and most effective treatment possible. Often a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is the first course of treatment. This machine supplies a steady flow of oxygen through a small tube that’s attached to a mask that fits over your mouth and nose. The airflow helps keep your airway open during sleep.
If you find CPAP uncomfortable, your doctor may recommend an oral appliance, which is worn in your mouth as you sleep. It helps prevent your tongue and soft tissues in the back of the throat from collapsing during sleep.
In some cases, when more conservative treatments fail, surgery may be recommended. Many procedures are minimally invasive and involve little or no discomfort.
If you snore or feel excessively sleepy during the day, make an appointment today with a sleep apnea doctor at eos sleep. Our doctors and staff are dedicated to providing the most effective treatment possible that will help you sleep better and will also improve your overall well-being.