Sleep apnea is a condition which is characterized by prolonged episodes of abnormal breathing while you sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, you’ll experience interruptions in your normal breathing pattern during sleep, and excessive snoring is often a problem as well. Sleep apnea can be serious and potentially even life-threatening because your body isn’t getting enough oxygen, and it requires careful management. If you think you may have sleep apnea, it’s wise to arrange a consultation with Dr. Kevin F. Postol. The earlier sleep apnea is diagnosed and addressed, the better.
What exactly is sleep apnea and what are the symptoms?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder which obstructs your airflow, causing pauses in your breathing while sleeping, robbing your body’s organs of oxygen. It’s common to feel like you haven’t slept well even if you’ve been in bed for several hours when you have sleep apnea. Additional symptoms include:
- Loud snoring
- Labored breathing
- Prolonged pauses in your breathing (these will usually be noticed by another person)
- Gasping to get your breath when you sleep
- Waking to go to the bathroom frequently
- Headaches in the mornings
- Feeling tired and irritable during the day
There are different types of sleep apnea, and it can affect patients in different ways. In the most severe cases, when breathing ceases for long periods, sleep apnea requires immediate treatment.
Health risks associated with sleep apnea
Sleep apnea can be incredibly dangerous, and in some cases, it can prove fatal. This is because breathing is interrupted during sleep, which can prevent oxygen from traveling around the body normally. For example, when there is a lack of oxygen, the body will support the brain and the heart muscle with oxygen first, stealing it from other parts of the body, such as the bladder, for example. This is why you may feel the need to get up to use the bathroom several times during the night. When there isn’t enough oxygen to go around, the body could shut down.
There are several illnesses, conditions, and symptoms that are linked to sleep apnea. In addition to breathing troubles and an elevated risk of respiratory problems, sleep apnea can also cause memory loss, high blood pressure, an increased risk of cardiac complications, and a weakened immune system. People who suffer from sleep apnea may also be prone to depression, confusion, fatigue and a loss of libido. As sleep apnea can get worse if left untreated, it’s crucial to seek advice as soon as you start to notice symptoms.
What can be done for sleep apnea?
There are various sleep apnea treatment options available, and the type of therapy used will often depend on the severity of symptoms. Dr. Postol often recommends oral appliance therapy as a means of opening up the airway while you sleep. Oral appliances are non-invasive, and they can be hugely beneficial for those with mild or moderate sleep apnea. The appliance is designed to prevent the airway from collapsing while you sleep, and it can provide an alternative to CPAP therapy. In more severe cases, additional options, including using a CPAP machine, may be explored.
If you’re worried about sleep apnea, or you think you or your partner might be suffering from breathing problems during sleep, Dr. Postol can help. If you do have symptoms of sleep apnea, it will be possible to carry out tests and determine the best course of action based on the findings. As sleep apnea has the potential to cause severe symptoms and impact the major organs, it is beneficial to get your symptoms checked out as quickly as possible.
To arrange an appointment with Dr. Postol, don’t hesitate to contact us today!