What’s Keeping You Awake? All About Sleep Apnea


What’s Keeping You Awake? All About Sleep Apnea

sleeping beauty

If you snore, you know that it can cause stress between you and your bed partner. You know that it can affect activities you enjoy, like camping with friends and family. But are you aware that loud snoring may be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious disorder that affects over 4% of the population?

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when your breathing is interrupted multiple times during sleep. Sleep apnea often causes sleepiness during the day, because those brief interruptions knock you out of your natural sleep rhythm. For most people, the biggest warning sign is their lack of energy and mental acuteness when awake, due to chronic sleep deprivation.

Risk Factors

Anyone at any age can get sleep apnea, but you may be at higher risk if you:

  • Are male
  • Are overweight
  • Are over the age of 40
  • Have a large neck, tonsils, or tongue
  • Have a small jawbone
  • Have sleep apnea in your family history
  • Have gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Have a nasal obstruction, like a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

Symptoms And Long-Term Effects

Most of the obvious symptoms of sleep apnea occur when sleeping. If you share a bed, ask your bed partner if you show any of the following symptoms while asleep:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Choking, snorting, or gasping during sleep

Other symptoms that may suggest sleep apnea are more obvious when awake. Here are a few immediate signs that you can monitor yourself:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lowered libido
  • Recurrent awakenings or insomnia
  • High blood pressure
  • Inability to breathe properly when asleep
  • Poor concentration
  • Moodiness, irritability, or depression
  • Headaches
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Insomnia
  • Weight Gain

If you recognize any of these symptoms, you may have sleep apnea. To learn more about the disorder and to get tested, schedule an appointment with a physician at WWMG.  When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to long-term complications, such as:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attacks
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic depression

In children and young adults, sleep apnea may lead to worsening of ADHD symptoms, and poor performance in school. At WWMG, we treat patients of every age for sleep disorders.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your physician will determine the best treatment option for you. Do not begin any treatment on your own without first consulting a physician.

Most often, obstructive sleep apnea is treated using a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). A CPAP is a small mask for your nose and/or mouth that provides a continuous stream of air to help keep your airway open during sleep.

Other methods of treatment may include dental appliances to secure the jaw and muscles that affect the airway, surgery to remove blocking tissues, nerve stimulation to control airway muscles, and breathing sensors. There are also some non-invasive lifestyle changes that can help alleviate the symptoms and severity of sleep apnea.

Again, make sure you consult with a physician before undertaking any new treatment plan.

Sleep Medicine At WWMG

Our board-certified sleep medicine physicians diagnose and treat the full range of adult and pediatric sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, periodic limb movement disorder, restless legs syndrome, narcolepsy, idiopathic hypersomnia, and sleep-related eating disorders.

If you know or suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from sleep apnea, request an appointment with a WWMG Sleep Medicine specialist today.