What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing stops and restarts multiple times throughout the night. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you should contact Alabama Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists right away. There are a number of signs and symptoms of sleep apnea such as loud snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath, insomnia, headaches, attention problems, a dry mouth or sore throat, and irritability.
What causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can be caused by a number of different factors such as relaxed muscles in the back of your throat that result in a closed or narrowed airway. This form of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea. There is also central sleep apnea that occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. In some cases, we see patients with both obstructive and central sleep apnea— we call this complex sleep apnea. Suffering from sleep apnea means that the brain and rest of the body is not getting enough oxygen and can be extremely harmful to the body.
Who is at risk?
Sleep apnea can affect children or adults. It is commonly found in those who are obese, have a thicker neck circumference, a family history of sleep apnea, an existing heart disorder, use narcotic pain medications, have had a stroke, or are born with a narrower airway. Many additional factors can plan in to who is at risk for sleep apnea.
What are the effects of Sleep Apnea?
If untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a number of additional health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver problems
- Worsening of ADHD
- Heart failure, heart attacks, and irregular heart beats
- Academic underachievement in children
Dealing with Sleep Apnea prior to your appointment
Prior to your appointment, there are a few things you can do to mitigate complications, including sleeping on your side and avoiding alcohol and sedative medications before bed.
When should you see a doctor?
Snoring loudly is common, however, it is important to seek medical advice to prevent further effects. If you believe you have sleep apnea, you should contact Alabama Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists to schedule an appointment. A sleep test can be performed to help monitor your body as you sleep and get more information about the cause and how severe your sleep apnea may be. The test will help determine the next steps that should be taken to treat your symptoms.