Consistently getting a good night’s rest is crucial to both your physical and mental health. About 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. This potentially life-threatening condition, which affects your breathing during sleep, is a serious cause for concern and can affect your life greatly. Learn more about sleep apnea with your doctors at Central ENT Consultants in Hagerstown and Frederick, MD.
What is sleep apnea?
An apnea is defined as a pause in breathing during sleep. These apneas can occur for one of two reasons: a malfunction of the body’s breathing system (central sleep apnea, CSA) or an obstruction in the airflow while breathing (obstructive sleep apnea, OSA). However, OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Often, the bed partners of sleep apnea patients notice the symptoms of this condition before the actual sufferer. The symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- loud, excessive snoring
- waking up gasping or choking
- daytime sleepiness
- morning headaches
- mood swings
- sore or dry throat upon waking
If your snoring is loud enough to wake you up or disturb your bed partner, you regularly wake up gasping for breath, or you notice your daily life being affected by your lack of a good night’s rest, it may be time to see your doctor. Those with excess weight, a family history of sleep apnea, a narrow airway, and who use alcohol, tobacco, or sedatives are more at risk for sleep apnea. Additionally, men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than women, as are those who are of advanced age.
How is sleep apnea treated?
There is no single test to diagnose sleep apnea. A sleep study allows your doctor to determine if you are suffering from this condition. Additionally, family and medical history aid in a proper diagnosis. In mild cases of sleep apnea, simple lifestyle changes such as losing weight or sleeping in different positions helps ease the symptoms of sleep apnea. However, the most effective and common treatment for this condition is wearing a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine at night to regulate the flow of the air into the lungs. Some severe cases of sleep apnea require surgical intervention. Your doctor can help you determine which is the best way to treat your sleep apnea.
For more information on sleep apnea, please contact an ENT specialist at Central ENT Consultants with offices in Hagerstown and Frederick, MD. Call (301) 739-0400 to speak with an associate about scheduling your appointment today!