What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder characterized by at least one pause in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep. Pauses in breathing can span a few seconds or extend into a few minutes. In sleep apnea, interruptions often occur 5 to 30 times (or more) each hour.
After an interruption to sleep, people often awaken with a loud snort or choking sound. Sleep apnea is among the more serious sleep disorders because it can cause serious issues with virtually all aspects of the body, including neurological function. We offer treatment for sleep apnea in Rock Hill, SC and Charlotte, NC, to get you back on track and sleeping peacefully.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
Sleep apnea is considered a chronic disorder known to disrupt your sleep. People with sleep apnea move from deep sleep to light sleep as breathing slows, pauses, or grows shallow. Consistent interruptions to breathing result in poor sleep quality and persistent and overwhelming fatigue.
Because sleep apnea leads to dramatic interruptions to healthy sleep, it is among the leading causes of excessive sleepiness during the day. Sleep apnea frequently goes undiagnosed, leaving patients feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by their symptoms. Routine visits to the doctor may not yield any results related to sleep apnea and blood tests do not reveal the presence of sleep apnea.
Detecting the disorder can be a daunting task. Most people who have sleep apnea do not realize they have the condition because it only occurs during sleep. In the absence of a partner or family member who notices sleep changes, it is often not possible to notice the standard symptoms of sleep apnea. This can create feelings of frustration and fear regarding sleep and rest.
A family member and/or bed partner is usually the first to notice the signs of apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is currently the most frequently seen form of this condition. This typically means that the airway has collapsed or is blocked during sleep. The blockage in question may cause your breath to grow shallow or stop altogether.
When you try to breathe, air attempting to move past the blockage results in noisy snoring. While sleep apnea is more common in people who are overweight, it is possible for anyone to become affected. Small children, for instance, may have enlarged tonsil tissues in their throats. These tissues can lead to obstructive sleep apnea.
The most significant signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include the following:
- Excessive or loud snoring
- A gasping or sucking sound during sleep
- Interrupted sleep
- Dry mouth
- Dry morning cough
- Headache upon waking
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Persistent daytime fatigue
- Attention issues
- Increased anger or irritability
- Mood changes
Many of these symptoms are difficult to self-report. They may be noticed by a partner or family member and brought to the attention of the individual suffering from sleep apnea prior to seeking medical intervention.
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The most common first step in developing a sleep apnea treatment plan is conducting a sleep study. If you have symptoms of sleep apnea, a sleep study can help determine the most likely cause. From there, a sleep medicine professional can help develop a treatment plan that will target the specific issues and needs of a given case.
Because there are different types of sleep apnea, it is essential to determine the root cause of symptoms. Obstructive sleep apnea, for instance, may focus on weight loss efforts and other targets to improve the source of the airway obstruction. Central sleep apnea requires different types of intervention to target neurological function. Complex sleep apnea targets both issues to deliver a more robust treatment option.
If you exhibit symptoms of sleep apnea, reach out to our team for a sleep consultation today!