Midtown ENT

How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

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How Do I Know If I Have Sleep Apnea?

When the day is over, and the body wears down to the point we can’t stay upright, we go to sleep. About one-third of our lives are spent doing this, where we not only rest our bodies but heal injuries and repair tissue, conserve energy, and reorganize and catalog memories and experiences we’ve learned from. The amount of sleep we require to accomplish all these vital things varies over our lifetimes, with newborns needing about 14 and the elderly needing about nine.

Conditions that affect our ability to get as much sleep as we need affect our bodies in numerous ways and can lead to problems functioning during the day, and sleep apnea is one of the most common. Getting this sleeping disorder treated means knowing what signs to look for, so to help with that, let’s examine what this condition is, its symptoms and complications, and the treatment methods to improve your rest.

If you live in the West Midtown area of Atlanta, Georgia, and you’re having problems sleeping due to sleep apnea or other issues, Dr. Shivan Amin and his skilled medical staff at Midtown ENT can help restore a good night’s rest.

Defining sleep apnea

This is an illness that affects your breathing as you try to sleep, which leads to your body engaging in a survival reflex, causing you to wake long enough to resume normal breathing, keeping you from achieving natural rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Sleep happens in multiple stages, and assuming you get at least eight hours of rest, we go through about 4-5 cycles of these stages that are breathing issues, like what happens in sleep apnea, compromise. Different types of sleep apnea can lead to these problems:

  • Obstructive: The most common type occurs when some form of blockage in the tissue surrounding the head and neck muscles disrupts breathing in the airway.
  • Central: Breathing is an autonomic function and this type of apnea results from signals not being sent from the brain to regulate normal breathing when asleep.
  • Complex: This is also called mixed, this is a condition with a combination of both of the other forms of apnea.

Signs and complications

Sleep apnea can be either acute (short term) or chronic (long term), and changes in sleep may not be immediately noticeable, but when they are signs like snoring, daytime fatigue, frequent waking, waking with dry mouth, teeth grinding, headaches, and problems concentrating occur. A partner sleeping with you may also notice pausing in your breathing as you sleep, and more serious issues that can result include heart palpitations and decreased sex drive. Left untreated, diseases like hypertension, stroke, heart arrhythmias, heart failure, diabetes, and heart attack are at higher risk.

Several factors contribute to your chances of dealing with the problem, such as age (older people are at higher risk), being male, Black, Hispanic, or Native American, having a larger neck, and having a family history of the condition. Genes that affect things like obesity and inflammation in the face and skull also raise your chances of sleep apnea.

Treatment options

We offer a range of solutions to deal with breathing problems that sleep apnea creates, including oral devices, lifestyle changes, and, if necessary, surgical intervention. There are basic changes we can advise, such as sleeping on your side instead of your back, losing weight and engaging in regular exercise, reducing your alcohol intake, and taking fewer sedatives.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices are the most common solution for keeping breathing consistent while sleeping, but other oral appliances are available to help perform that task if CPAP proves difficult to use. They work by repositioning the tongue and jaw to keep the airway open. If structural issues are causing the problem, surgery to remove excess tissue can resolve it.

Sleep apnea affects millions and can be dangerous over time if not treated, but help is available. If you have the signs of a sleep disorder, make an appointment with Dr. Amin and his team at Midtown ENT today to sleep better.