More than 18 million Americans suffer from Sleep Apnea…10 million Americans remain undiagnosed
Could your Snoring Mean Something More?
If you snore, you may know about nightly jabs in the ribs, grumbling from your bed partner or even what it’s like to spend a night or two on the couch! But did you know that snoring could signify something far more serious than a restless night’s sleep for the others in your household? You may have an unsafe condition called Sleep Apnea.
Sleep Apnea is Serious
Sleep Apnea is a common disorder in which your throat becomes blocked during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for short periods of time. This is also what makes you snore. Other signs include:
- Frequently feeling drowsy or sleepy during the day
- Waking up tired, even after a full night’s sleep
- Waking up with a headache
- Feeling very sleepy or falling asleep at the wrong time (for instance, at work or while driving your car)
- Having a short temper
- Having problems with concentration or memory
- Obesity (not everyone who is overweight suffers from Sleep Apnea, nor is everyone who suffers from Sleep Apnea necessarily overweight.)
If untreated, Sleep Apnea can cause:
- Irregular heartbeat
- High blood pressure
- Enlargement of the heart
- Increased risk of heart failure
- Increased risk of stroke
- Excessive sleepiness
- Workplace and automobile accidents
- Uncontrollable weight gain
- Psychological symptoms (i.e. irritability, depression)
- Deterioration of memory, alertness and coordination
Our Physicians Can Help
Snoring and Sleep Apnea rarely go away on their own, but they can be treated. Our doctor can evaluate you and suggest treatment to help you breathe and sleep better. Treatment may include changes you can make, a medical device you can use or surgery. Treating your snoring may give you sound, restful sleep that won`t annoy those around you. And if you prevent or control Sleep Apnea, you`ll improve your own life and health.
Some Changes You Can Make
Your snoring may get better if you make a few simple changes in your sleeping and waking habits. These changes might be all you need to improve or even cure your snoring or Sleep Apnea, or they may work best when used along with other types of treatment.
- Sleep on your side – Sleeping on your side may keep throat tissue from blocking your air passage. This may improve or even cure snoring or Sleep Apnea.
- Avoid alcohol and certain medications – Alcohol and medications such as sedatives, sleeping pills and antihistamines can make breathing slow and shallow. They also make your muscles relax so structures in your throat can block your air passage. Avoid alcohol and talk to your doctor if you take medication to help you sleep.
- Lose weight – Excess weight can make snoring worse. The extra weight puts pressure on your neck tissues and lungs, making breathing harder. Getting close to your ideal weight may even cure snoring or Sleep Apnea.
- Exercise regularly – Exercise can help you lose weight, tone your muscles and improve lung capacity.
- Unblock your nose – If something is blocking your nasal passages, treating the problem may help improve your snoring or Sleep Apnea. Your doctor can suggest medications for allergies or sinus problems. Surgery can straighten a deviated septum, reduce the size of turbinates or remove polyps (growths).
Air Pressure Devices
To treat Sleep Apnea and severe snoring, a doctor may suggest an air pressure device. The most common type of air pressure device is called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP). Often, adjustments are necessary to make CPAP comfortable. Our doctor can help make CPAP work for you.
How CPAP Works
A flexible hose connects a small air blower to a soft plastic mask. Each night, you place the mask over your nose and turn on the blower. The blower sends a gentle, steady stream of air through your nose into your throat. This keeps the throat structures from blocking your air passage. By performing a sleep study, our doctors can find out how much air pressure is needed to keep your air passage open. You and your doctor may need to adjust this pressure after initial diagnosis so CPAP works right for you. The pressure may also need to be changed if you lose or gain weight.
Tips for Using CPAP
- CPAP can’t cure snoring or Sleep Apnea, so use it all night, every night.
- If your mask doesn’t fit or feel right, talk to your doctor or the vendor about adjusting it or trying a new one. Custom-made masks are also available.
- A vaporizer or humidifier may help combat any dryness in the nose that CPAP causes. Saline nasal spray may also help.
- CPAP works best if your nose is clear. If you have allergies or other problems that block your nose, get those treated first.
- If CPAP doesn’t feel good or work well at first, don’t stop using it. Ask your doctor for ways to help it work for you.
Misdiagnosing Sleep Apnea
Sleep Apnea is very commonly misdiagnosed. Only in the 1980s did doctors begin to recognize it as a specific sleep/breathing disorder with characteristic causes and symptoms. It is still best understood by Sleep Specialists. Even today, the average medical student receives only about 24 minutes of instruction on sleep disorders during his or her entire medical education.
Call us TODAY! We can help you stop feeling tired.