Are your friends any family constantly complaining about your snoring? Well this may be the first indication that you have sleep apnea.
Many people living with sleep apnea don’t even know they suffer from the condition because it usually takes someone else to notice the telltale symptoms while the person is asleep.
In addition to the symptoms that usually come with poor sleep, such as fatigue, difficulty focusing, and headaches, untreated sleep apnea can increase the risk of serious long term health problems as well.
The good news is that sleep apnea is manageable. At West Houston Surgical Associates, Christopher Reilly, MD, FACS, specializes in diagnosing sleep apnea and can provide guidance for how best to treat the condition.
Do you have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea can be difficult or even impossible to self diagnose. The airway becomes momentarily obstructed, causing pauses in breathing throughout the night while the person sleeps. In many cases, the condition is detected when a partner notices the gaps in breathing.
Other common symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Chronic snoring
- Choking or gasping for breath
- Dry mouth/sore throat in the morning
- Chronic sleepiness/fatigue
- Irritability/mood changes
- Difficulty staying awake throughout the day
If left untreated, sleep apnea can also increase the risk of serious health problems like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and metabolic issues. It can also put a strain on relationships when a partner can’t get adequate sleep due to loud snoring and some of the other side effects.
Sleep apnea treatment
Sleep apnea treatments are designed to keep the airway open and unobstructed so that you can get enough oxygen while you sleep. This can be accomplished in a number of ways depending on the cause of the airway obstruction and your overall health and fitness.
With obstructive sleep apnea (the most common form), the muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep, blocking the airway and interrupting the flow of oxygen. The second type is central sleep apnea, which results when there’s a malfunction in the signals that the brain sends to the muscles that control breathing. The pauses in breathing may only last a few seconds, but they can occur dozens of times throughout the night, disrupting your sleep patterns as a result.
One of the most common methods to treat sleep apnea is with a CPAP machine (continuous positive airway pressure), which provides pressurized oxygen through a mask while you sleep to keep the airway open and the air flowing. Oral appliances that keep the jaw and tongue in alignment so they can’t block the airway are also available as an alternative to CPAP in some cases.
Managing risk factors like obesity and tobacco and alcohol use also play a role in managing obstructive sleep apnea.
For more information about the symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options for sleep apnea, contact our Houston, Texas, office today to schedule an appointment.