Signs, Risks and Treatment Options

If you snore loudly, wake up short of breath, or consistently feel drowsy during the day after a full night’s sleep, you may be one of the 12 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

People who suffer from sleep apnea stop breathing periodically while sleeping. Severe sufferers may stop breathing as often as 20 – 35 times per hour, or once every two minutes. Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition that, left untreated, can cause high blood, heart failure, and stroke.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat; central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don’t receive the proper signal from the brain; and “mixed” or “complex” sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.

Anyone can suffer from sleep apnea, although it is more common for men than women, and in older adults (40+) than younger adults and children.

What Are the Signs of Sleep Apnea?

The most common signs that you or someone you love suffers from sleep apnea are:

  • Loud snoring
  • Suddenly waking up short of breath during sleep
  • Snorting, gasping, or choking during sleep
  • Headaches upon waking in the morning
  • Unexplained drowsiness during the day
  • Falling asleep unintentionally at unwanted times
  • Insomnia or difficulty sleeping

The two most common concerns that alert people to the fact that they have sleep apnea are:

  • A partner complains about very loud snoring or notices that you gasp or choke in your sleep
  • You feel drowsy or sleepy nearly every day, even though you are getting plenty of sleep at night

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

While each case of sleep apnea is unique, it almost always requires some form of treatment in addition to life style changes such as quitting smoking, losing weight, and changing the position you sleep in.

Many people find relief from sleep apnea by being fitted with a custom-made oral device that can prevent throat blockage and allow regular breathing throughout the night by gently positioning the jaw in a forward position, thus making the use of a CPAP unnecessary.

Contact our office for more information.