Sleep Apnea FAQ
Dr. G. Brooks Haney at Smiles of North Dallas provides treatment for sleep apnea in Richardson, TX. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans and can cause problems ranging from daytime fatigue to hypertension. We have provided this sleep apnea FAQ to help you understand the causes, symptoms, and why treatment is important.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
There are two forms of apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when the tongue and soft tissues of the throat collapse, partially or completely blocking the airways. Another form is central sleep apnea (CSA), which is caused when the brain fails to properly control breathing during sleep. OSA is much more common than CSA, which requires the attention of a specialist.
What Are Some of the Symptoms?
One of the most common signs of sleep apnea is persistent fatigue during the day. Other symptoms include:
- Excessively loud or disruptive snoring
- Choking or gasping during sleep
- Early morning headaches
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulties learning or remembering
- Irritability or depression
- Sexual dysfunction
A partner may witness you stopping breathing entirely during sleep from time to time. This is not normal and is likely a sign of OSA.
Does Everyone Who Snores Have Sleep Apnea?
No. However, if you snore very loudly, it may be a sign of a more serious issue, such as sleep apnea.
What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Left Untreated?
Obstructive sleep apnea can cause fragmented sleep as well as low oxygen levels in the blood. The combination of sleep deprivation and oxygen starvation associated with this condition is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, and stroke, as well as mood and memory problems.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have OSA?
The first step is to visit our office. Before the visit, try to gather as much information as possible about your sleep patterns and any other symptoms. Keep a record of your sleep as well as your fatigue levels during the day.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea.
You can also ask your bed partner if they notice you snoring heavily, choking, or gasping while you sleep. You should bring an updated list of medications. If we suspect you suffer from the condition, we can refer you to a specialist in the area for a formal diagnosis.
How Can the Doctor Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?
You will likely need to undergo a sleep study. This study may involve an overnight stay at a sleep center. Sleep studies monitor a variety of functions, including:
- Sleep state
- Eye movement
- Muscle activity
- Heart rate
- Respiratory effort
- Blood oxygen levels
This test diagnoses sleep apnea and can also determine the severity, allowing Dr. Haney to recommend treatment.
Do Oral Devices Really Help Control Sleep Apnea?
For the right patients, yes. Oral devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue to prevent airway blockage. These devices are especially useful for patients who are resistant to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices.
What Else Can I Do to Reduce Sleep Apnea?
Some patients have fewer breathing problems when they sleep on their sides instead of their back. Other methods include losing weight, avoiding alcohol, and quitting smoking.