Maybe it's the subject of a long-running joke among family and friends. Your partner's snoring is so loud and dramatic, it can probably be heard in another zip code. No amount of nose pinching and rolling them onto their side while they sleep seems to help. And while the occasional bout of snoring can make for a funny story (unless you're the person being kept awake), chronic snoring can sometimes be a sign of a potentially serious sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
When the muscles at the back of the throat become relaxed during sleep, it can obstruct the airway, which results in the nasal night symphony known as snoring (the actual sound comes from vibrations of the soft palate). Normal bouts of snoring can result from several factors, including:
- Tonsil infection/swelling
- Deviated septum/blocked nasal passage
- Alcohol consumption
With sleep apnea, the person actually stops breathing for seconds or even minutes at a time throughout the night. Often, the condition is caught when a partner observes the snorer's pattern of snoring and pauses in breathing while they sleep. Because it disrupts the sleep cycle, people often feel exhausted, groggy, and irritable throughout the day, in spite of getting a full night's sleep.
The otolaryngologists at Hagerstown and Frederick based Central ENT Consultants, P.C. diagnose patients by performing a physical exam, and a sleep test to monitor vital functions during a sleep cycle in some cases. The condition can range from mild to severe, and in more severe cases lead to other health risks such as:
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
Sleep Apnea Treatment in Hagerstown and Frederickâ€‹
In addition to uncomfortable everyday side effects like headaches, exhaustion, and mood swings, sleep apnea can pose a serious health risk for some patients. If you or a loved one are suffering from excessive snoring or symptoms of sleep apnea, contact an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Central ENT Consultants, P.C. in Hagerstown and Frederick by calling (301) 739-0400 to schedule an appointment today.