You know snoring can be annoying, especially if the person who sleeps next to you is doing it; but did you also know that snoring can be a sign of a potentially serious medical condition? Loud snoring is one possible symptom of a disorder called sleep apnea, in which your breathing repeatedly starts and stops during sleep. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath
- Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Morning headache
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
- Attention problems
There are two main types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive, and each has a number of risk factors. Among those factors are obesity; age; jaw, tongue and palate structure; large tonsils and adenoids; and certain medical conditions.
In central sleep apnea, there is a disconnect causing your brain to stop sending signals to the muscles that control your breathing. In other words, you breathing isn’t getting blocked, you’re just not doing it. Usually there is a serious illness behind central sleep apnea such as a neurological disease or heart failure, and the route to treatment is through addressing the underlying cause.
Obstructive sleep apnea, which is more common, occurs when the throat muscles relax and the airway narrows, limiting air intake and lowering the amount of oxygen in your blood. This can happen several times an hour, and when it does, you may wake yourself up by gasping or choking. However, many times you may fall right back asleep and never know it happened.
The danger of sleep apnea is that it can lead to serious illnesses such as high blood pressure, stroke and heart disease, so it is important that you see a doctor if you, or someone you love, have any of the following symptoms:
- Loud snoring
- Waking up gasping
- Irritability or Depressing
- Excessive sleepiness
There are variety of surgical and nonsurgical treatment options available, depending on the cause and type of your apnea. If it is determined that you can benefit from a surgical procedure, schedule an appointment with one of our expert physicians at our sister branch Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat. Westwood ENT provides superior patient-centered treatment for sleep disorders in up-to-date facilities. We offer many non-invasive, outpatient procedures that last only a few hours and leave you with minimal discomfort during recovery and maximum relief afterward. These procedures target the nose and throat and include radiofrequency turbinate reduction, tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy and deviated septum repair.