Sleep Apnea Diagnosis and Treatment Options
According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 18 million adults in the United States have sleep apnea. If you’re reading this, you probably suspect you may be one of them and may be seeking sleep apnea clinics or a sleep apnea doctor. Sleep problems are extremely difficult to self-diagnose because they occur while you’re sleeping (or attempting to sleep). That’s why it’s important to familiarize yourself with common sleep disorder symptoms that occur when you’re awake.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Apnea is a temporary cessation of breathing that can occur for various reasons. It can be divided into three main types:
During obstructive apnea, the muscles and tissues lining the upper airway relax and collapse into the airway. This obstructs the proper flow of air, frequently leads to snoring and prevents deep sleep.
Central apnea occurs when the body stops breathing as the result of signal interruptions between the brain and diaphragm. Central apnea can lead to lapses in breathing that last up to a minute.
Mixed apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central apnea. All three types of apnea can contribute to dangerously low oxygen levels in the body and should be treated right away.
How Serious Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?
The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive. It is potentially dangerous and has claimed lives due to its effect on the cardiovascular system. Many people become accustomed to the effects for years but soon start researching sleep apnea clinics after learning that the obstructive type increases the risk for the following:
- Heart failure
- Coronary heart disease
- Heart attacks
Note also that when someone stops breathing in their sleep, this leads to drops in both blood oxygen levels and an increase in blood pressure. These changes can put additional strain on the heart and lead to high blood pressure over time.
Another potential risk factor worsened by obstructive sleep apnea is abnormal heart rhythms. This can cause low blood pressure. If the patient has a history of heart disease or other conditions affecting the cardiovascular system, it can result in sudden death.
Obstructive sleep apnea may also create complications when patients take certain medications. For example, sleep apnea patients may suffer from breathing problems after receiving anesthesia for surgery. Sedatives and analgesics may cause the upper airway to relax, which is the underlying issue here.
Finally, sleep deprivation from obstructive sleep apnea limits daytime performance. Patients may struggle with concentrating at school or work, leading to poor grades, irritability, depression and missed work quotas. To make matters worse, people with severe sleep apnea also experience a 123% higher risk of causing a crash. Many gruesome commercial crashes result from drowsy drivers and train operators suffering from sleep apnea.
What Are Common Symptoms?
Apnea has many warning signs, some of which occur during waking hours. Common symptoms of sleep disorders include:
- Dry mouth
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Dry throat
- Headaches (especially first thing in the morning)
- Weight gain
If you notice any of these symptoms and are looking for sleep apnea clinics, you may have a sleep disorder. In addition to monitoring symptoms yourself, you may also want to have your spouse or partner monitor you while you sleep to see if you frequently stop breathing, snore or gasp for air.
What Are My Treatment Options?
In many cases, simply changing your lifestyle can reduce or eliminate your apnea symptoms altogether. If you have obstructive apnea symptoms due to being overweight, your symptoms may subside as you adopt a healthier lifestyle and lose excess weight. Quitting smoking may also help you achieve a more restful sleep at night.
Continuous positive airway pressure (C-pap) machines are frequently recommended for people with sleep disorders. A C-pap machine uses a motorized fan to gently push pressurized air into the airways so they won’t collapse during sleep.
In complex cases, the experienced surgeons and sleep apnea doctors at Summit Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery sleep apnea clinics, we can perform oral surgery to reposition the bones in the lower and upper jaw. This is done to increase the airway size and facilitate the flow of air during sleep.
Are CPAP Machines Worth the Price?
Many people are turned off by the price of CPAP therapy. CPAP machines can cost anywhere from $500 to $3,000 with $850 being the average price people play. It is only natural then that patients want to know what they’re getting for that level of investment. Despite the high cost, CPAP machines are simple inventions. These are just small boxes featuring a motorized fan. The fan pulls air from the environment, pressurizes and filters it and then uses that pressure to keep your airways open.
People with obstructive sleep apnea can stop breathing up to 30 times in just one hour. The CPAP machine may help to prevent this. This drastically improves the quality of sleep and any daytime lethargy the person would otherwise feel. In fact, most sleep apnea doctors consider this the most effective treatment for OSA, short of surgery.
How Can I Adjust to CPAP Therapy?
Despite the phenomenal results patients experience after using the CPAP machine, there may be some initial discomfort. Many of the causes of this have easy fixes. If you experience any discomfort and foresee any potential problems, speak with your doctor to see what the solutions are. Older CPAP machines are loud. Not only did they make a loud sound of air passing through, but they also made metallic clinking noises. Modern machines are no longer like this. You can find brands that are near-noiseless. This may be especially important if your partner is a light sleeper.
Some patients have a difficult time tolerating forced air in the beginning. CPAP machines feature different pressure settings. Speak with your doctor to see which one might work best for you. Some people also complain that the pressurized air dries out the nose and mouth. CPAP machines now have built-in humidifiers to remedy this.
Finally, patients may at first struggle to fall asleep with the mask on. This is natural. You can overcome this by wearing the mask for a few hours during the day, preferably while relaxing. Try this while watching TV or for an hour or so before going to sleep.
Call Us Today!
Whether it’s obstructive, central or mixed, sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that requires prompt treatment. To schedule your consultation, call one of our sleep apnea clinics in Rochester Hills, Clinton Township, Grosse Pointe, Warren or Romeo / Washington, Michigan during business hours or fill out our online appointment request form.>