There is a not-so-silent condition that sneaks up on millions of Americans every night while they are trying to get a good night’s sleep. This condition is so powerful that it not only affects the sufferer, but anyone else who sleeps within hearing distance!
Of course, we are talking about loud snoring which is often a sign of OSA, obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is often overlooked as a simple snoring habit, but the truth is much more frightening.
OSA has the potential to cause serious health problems, and patients who are not treating their OSA will soon find that there is a lot at risk!
We want to take some time today to talk to you about OSA and how you can identify it, prevent it, and treat it. Let’s get started with the basic question:
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea actually comes in two forms. The most common is OSA. In this form, your body is unable to hold the air passages open, so you cannot breathe well. In some cases, your breathing passage will close completely, forcing your body to pull you awake. This can happen hundreds of times each night!
A second, much more rare, form of sleep apnea is called central sleep apnea (CSA). In this case, the brain actually fails to send signals to your body to breathe. It is considered much more dangerous and serious because there aren’t easy solutions for this type of sleep apnea.
When Should I Be Tested?
Now that you have a basic understanding of what sleep apnea is, let’s take a look at some of the most common symptoms. This will help you determine if this is something that you should be tested for! Testing usually consists of a sleep study, which measures your breathing while you sleep comfortably in your own bed. We can recommend this study if necessary.
Loud Snoring: The most common and obvious symptom is loud snoring. If you aren’t sure that you snore, your loved ones will be able to tell you!
Waking Up Gasping for Air: You may or may not realize that you are waking up multiple times each night, or that you have stopped breathing. Again, this is something that your partner or spouse may have noticed.
Constant Exhaustion: What you will notice is a constant exhaustion. Even after a good night’s sleep, you will feel tired and drained. This is because you are constantly being awakened in order to breathe! While you might not become conscious, it makes it more difficult for your body to get the rest it needs.
There are many things we can do to ease OSA. The first step is to determine if this is, indeed, your ailment. Once we have a diagnosis, we can start talking about things you can do to improve your condition. We have a few of those solutions below.
Habit Changes: You can greatly improve your OSA by changing your current habits. Losing weight, not smoking, sleeping on your side, and avoiding relaxants (like alcohol) can all improve your OSA symptoms.
CPAP: A common OSA treatment involves a CPAP machine. This is a machine that pumps air through your breathing passages while you sleep to keep those passages open throughout the night.
Oral Appliances: Oral appliances are a great alternative to the CPAP (which can be uncomfortable and noisy). This is a small appliance that you place in your mouth to push your lower jaw forward while you sleep. This will hold your breathing passage open without discomfort or additional noise.
The Risk of Ignoring Symptoms
The last thing you want to do is ignore your sleep apnea symptoms altogether. There are serious, life-threatening health conditions associated with sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is directly linked with heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, sleep-related car accidents, and having a poor family life from the constant exhaustion.
Breathe and Sleep Better After One Phone Call
Don’t let sleep apnea ruin your health or your life. Contact us today to set up an appointment where we can learn more about your symptoms and help you find a solution to your sleep woes! Not only will you be happier, but your entire family will benefit as well!