What Is Sleep Apnea, And How Do You Know If You Have It?

ear nose and throat specialistSleep apnea is a, potentially serious, sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts whilst attempting to receive a full night's rest. You may have the disorder if you snore loudly and if you feel tired even after a full night's sleep.

Sleep apnea affects as many as an estimated 18 million Americans alone. This means that approximately 1 in every 15 Americans, or 6.62% of the total American population, have a case of sleep apnea.

The main types of sleep apnea are:

    1. Obstructive sleep apnea. A common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.


    1. Central sleep apnea. This occurs when your brain doesn't send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing.


  1. Complex sleep apnea syndrome. Occurs usually when someone has both of the above two apneas.

If you think you have any form of these apneas, you should consult and ENT, or ear nose and throat specialist, to see if there is an issue that could require an ear nose and throat surgeon. ENT doctors are specialty doctors that are experts in those locations.

Some treatments can be as simple as only changing a lifestyle that you possess, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, and the ear nose and throat specialist might recommend that. If you have nasal allergies that may be the cause of these issues, the doctor will recommend treatment for the allergies.

If these two suggestions do not fix the symptoms and signs of apnea, it may be moderate to severe and require one of many other treatment options.

There are certain devices that can help open a blocked airway and allow for easier breathing for those afflicted. In other cases, getting surgery might be recommended.

A Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is a common treatment method for sleep apnea patients. Generally, for moderate to severe sleep apnea, those afflicted may benefit from a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask placed over their nose while they sleep.

With a CPAP, the air pressure is somewhat greater than that of the surrounding air this prevents apnea and snoring by keeping your the airway passages open.

If you have any questions regarding sleep apnea, or seeing an ENT, please feel free to contact us. We'll be happy to help.