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Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects millions of adults and children. Although common, sleep apnea can have serious consequences if left undiagnosed. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy is the number one standard for treating sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s airway is blocked or partially blocked by collapsed tissues in the throat during sleep. The collapsed tissue blocks air flow causing the affected person to struggle to breathe, stopping the body from reaching a restful sleep. Sleep apnea can range from mild, moderate, to severe; depending on the level of restricted air flow and the number of times each hour the person’s breathing stops or slows.

There are two types of sleep apnea, Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and Central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the result of blocked airflow during sleep, such as from narrowed airways due to collapsed tissues. A common contributing factor of OSA is obesity.

Central sleep apnea results from a problem with how the brain signals the breathing muscles. This type of apnea can occur with conditions such as heart failure, brain tumors, brain infections, and stroke.

One of the most common signs of obstructive sleep apnea is loud and excessive snoring. Snoring may also be accompanied by choking or gasping for air during sleep. Excessive daytime sleepiness may result from sleep apnea due to the body’s inability to get a restful sleep. Waking up unrefreshed, feeling tired and having trouble concentrating are also common symptoms you may notice. Others signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include: morning or night headaches, memory or learning problems and inability to concentrate, feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes, excessive sweating during sleep, waking up frequently to urinate, nighttime heartburn or sour taste in mouth, dry mouth or sore throat when you wake up, swelling of the legs, and chest pains during sleep.

The first step to diagnosing sleep apnea is for your physician to review and evaluate your sleep apnea symptoms and decide whether a sleep study is needed. Your doctor might also perform a physical exam to check for an enlarged uvula or soft palate, common signs that sleep apnea is present.

After your initial exam with your doctor, your doctors office will forward an order to our office for the home sleep study. The tests will measure how well you sleep and how your body responds to sleep problems. There will be 3 sensors you self apply to gather data while you sleep. The testing procedure as a whole is known as Polysomnography, and will record your heart rate, airflow through your nose and mouth, and as well as number of times you snore during the night.

Polysomnography tests can be done with the home sleep testing equipment, however, sometimes due to insurance guidelines you may not be eligible for a home sleep study and you may be required to complete the testing in a sleep lab. 

Once the sleep study is complete, our Sleep Physician will review the results of the study to determine if you have sleep apnea and how severe it is.

If it is determined that you do have sleep apnea, your doctor will more than likely order a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine to treat the sleep apnea. CPAPs are the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A CPAP keeps your airway open during sleep through the use of mild positive air pressure.