There are two types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by tissue in the airway blocking the passage of air during sleep. Central Sleep Apnea is caused by the brain and nervous system affecting the impulse to breathe. This website will only discuss causes and treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Chronic snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea, which is a serious medical condition. Sleep Apnea is when you stop breathing or reduce the depth of your breathing by at least half during sleep for 10 seconds more. Some people do this hundreds of times an hour while they sleep, which is considered severe sleep apnea. This stopping or reducing the depth of breathing during sleep causes oxygen levels to decrease depriving your body and organs of the oxygen it needs.
While snoring can be disruptive to bed partners, obstructive sleep apnea is associated with a decrease in REM sleep (deep, restful sleep) for the patient. Sleep deprivation can result in mood swings, lack of concentration and energy, unsafe driving, daytime sleepiness, and weight gain. More serious complications of sleep apnea include an increase in the risk of developing hypertension, heart failure, pulmonary diseases, stroke, heart attacks and cardiac rhythm abnormalities, which is what makes sleep apnea treatment so important to one's health.
It is important that chronic snoring is distinguished between obstructive sleep apnea early due to the significant health consequences associated with the disease. Only a physician can determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. If you think that you or someone you know might be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea alert your physician immediately. The physicians at Atlanta Snoring Institute diagnose and treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea in adults and children. Contact an Atlanta snoring doctor today to schedule an expert evaluation.
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis
On your first visit, your physician at Atlanta Snoring Institute will take a careful history of your sleep condition, followed by a full visual examination of your airway; from the tip of your nose to your lungs. An overnight sleep study (Polysomnogram) is usually necessary in order to definitively diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. Atlanta Sleep Institute works directly with several spa-like environment sleep centers around Atlanta. Our office will find a sleep center with which your insurance company contracts, and arrange for this study if indicated.
Epworth Sleepiness Scale
Take the Epsworth SLEEPINESS QUIZ to determine if Daytime Sleepiness is affecting your life. The Epworth Score is a validated measure for determining the possibility of having a sleep disorder including OSA. It is only part of the diagnosis of OSA and should be used only as a screening tool, but not in place of a examination by a physician.
How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treated?
If Obstructive Sleep Apnea is diagnosed, there are medical and surgical procedures which can help or completely eliminate these events. Initial therapy is usually with Nasal CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), which is essentially a mask which fits over your nose and blows in air to keep the airways patent.
Most of these machines are easily portable for those who travel frequently, and better technology makes machines that are quieter and better tolerated. This treatment is 100% effective for those patients who keep the mask on all night long. Patients usually notice a significant improvement in their daytime function after initiating nasal CPAP therapy.
For those who are unable to tolerate nasal CPAP or who wish to pursue a permanent surgical cure for apnea, several options are available. Although the exact details of each procedure are beyond the scope of this web site, they typically involve surgical improvement of the nasal airway and/or treatment of enlarged tonsils, soft palate, and uvular enlargement or redundancy, and even procedures aimed towards relieving obstruction at the base of the tongue.
In certain patients with obstructive sleep apnea, the Pillar Procedure is performed in the office or at the same time as other airway surgeries. The Pillar Procedure stiffens the soft palate and can prevent its collapse into the airway during sleep.
Regardless of which avenue you choose to pursue, realize that obstructive sleep apnea is dangerous to your health and can even be life threatening. There are devices and procedures that can eliminate sleep apnea. Notify your Atlanta Snoring Institute physician if you think you might suffer from a sleep disorder including sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea can be a complex condition. Our practice will continue to work with you to provide the relief you deserve. Call today (770-389-0000) to schedule an evaluation with one of our physicians.