If you frequently snore loudly, you may have a disorder known as sleep apnea. This is a serious disorder, as it affects the amount of sleep you get. It also affects the amount of oxygen your body gets during the night, directly affecting your health and quality of life.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a breathing disorder that occurs while you sleep. The throat muscles relax during sleep, which causes soft tissue in the throat to collapse – blocking the upper airway. This leads to pauses in breathing for 10 seconds, 30 seconds, even one minute or longer; these pauses are known as “apneas.”
These breathing pauses lead to abrupt reductions in blood oxygen saturation, with oxygen levels falling as much as 40 percent or more in severe cases. The brain responds to the lack of oxygen by alerting the body, causing a brief arousal from sleep that restores normal breathing. This pattern can occur hundreds of times in one night, resulting in fragmented sleep that often produces an excessive level of daytime sleepiness.
Getting a Diagnosis
To determine whether you have sleep apnea, your doctor will ask questions about your medical history.
These factors increase the risk of sleep apnea:
- Overweight or obesity (Body Mass Index of 25 and above)
- Large neck sizes: 17 inches or more for men, 16 inches or more for women
- Middle age and older
- Ethnic minorities
- Certain head and neck abnormalities
- Down Syndrome
- Children with large tonsils and adenoids
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Endocrine disorders such as Acromegaly and Hypothyroidism
- Nasal congestion due to allergic rhinitis or nasal abnormalities
Health Risks of Sleep Apnea
These health problems are associated with sleep apnea:
- Fluctuating oxygen levels
- Increased heart rate
- Chronically high blood pressure
- Increased risk of stroke
- Higher death rate due to heart disease
- Impaired glucose tolerance and insulin resistance
- Impaired concentration
- Mood changes
- Increased risk of deadly motor vehicle accident
- Disturbed sleep of the bed partner
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Your doctor will advise you which treatment options are best for you.
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the standard treatment for moderate to severe cases of OSA.
- Oral appliance (a mouth device) is effective for people with mild to moderate OSA.
- Surgery is helpful when CPAP or oral appliances have been unsuccessful.
- Weight loss benefits many people with sleep apnea.
- Over-the-counter remedies include external nasal dilator strips, internal nasal dilators and lubricant sprays which may reduce snoring. However, there is no research evidence that they really help.
- Changing your sleep position may help: lay on the side (not the back) while sleeping, raising the head of the bed can also reduce symptoms.
Contact our office:
To find out more about our Sleep Apnea Diagnosis service, visit Dr. Schneiderman’s office located at 215 Union Avenue – Suite C, Bridgewater, NJ 08807, or book an appointment by calling us at (908) 725-5050.