An increasingly common medical condition in the U.S. is sleep apnea, and those most susceptible are the following demographics–African Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. With sleep apnea, your chest and diaphragm muscles have to work harder to open up blocked airways so they can bring air into the lungs. You may not be aware of it but breathing typically starts up again with a snort or loud gasp. Untreated sleep apnea lowers the normal flow of oxygen to your organs and can result in heart attack, stroke, asthma, kidney disease, glaucoma, diabetes and cancer.
Obstructive sleep apnea arises when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and blocks the upper airway during sleep and is often marked by snoring. Central sleep apnea involves the central nervous system as the brain fails to signal the muscles in the body to breathe and rarely involves snoring. Complex sleep apnea is where the patient experiences both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
To find out if you have sleep apnea and to what degree, overnight sleep tests are performed to monitor your breathing (or lack thereof) and record this activity for analysis. Essentially what sleep specialists are looking for is shallow breathing, how many times your breathing slows or stops altogether in an hour, the number of central sleep apnea occurrences, and if your oxygen levels diminish in the blood when these events occur.
One of the ways to determine a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, is to watch for sleepiness during the day, especially when driving. You want to learn how many times you snore or stop breathing during the night. Often a partner will let you know if your snoring wakes them, or if they can hear you gasp while sleeping. Your body measurements may be evaluated, and whether or not you have high blood pressure, which could be a sign of undiagnosed sleep apnea. If your doctor is concerned that you have sleep apnea, you will likely be referred to a sleep specialist to determine the degree of severity so that appropriate treatment can be recommended.
Our team wants to help you get a good night’s sleep, so contact us today to get a consultation. Your answer to a great night’s sleep can be found and we’ll be happy to help you find the solution. Call our office today with any questions you have or to schedule an appointment.