Is your snoring keeping your partner awake at night? Are you having trouble staying awake during the day? It may be time to talk to your doctor about sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when you temporarily stop breathing while you’re asleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
This is the most common form. It occurs when your throat muscles relax and your airway narrows as you breathe in.
Risk factors include:
This occurs when your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control your breathing.
This condition is the result of a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Your doctor may be able to tell if you’re suffering from sleep apnea based on a conversation about your symptoms. A thorough examination of your nose and throat can also identify obvious cases of obstruction.
You might also need an overnight sleep study, where your care team will monitor your breathing while you sleep. You’ll be attached to equipment that tracks your heart rate, lung and brain activity, breathing, limb movement and blood oxygen level.
Some patients are good candidates for a home sleep study with a portable monitoring device. Talk to your doctor about which option is right for you.
Treatment of your sleep apnea will depend on the type and severity.
If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, lifestyle changes like losing weight or quitting smoking may be enough to reduce your symptoms. Other options may include nasal spray, nasal strips or dental devices to hold your airway open.
If your symptoms are moderate to severe, you may benefit from a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine that sends air pressure through a mask into your nose while you sleep.
If you’ve tried these treatments without success, you might be a candidate for surgery to correct structural issues in your nose, shrink swollen tissue, remove enlarged tonsils or even widen your airway.
Sleep apnea isn’t just annoying – it can lead to dangerous health issues and should be addressed. Talk to your Mercy doctor who will develop a customized treatment plan to help keep you sleeping safely and soundly.