Do family members or roommates complain about your loud snoring? Snoring can be more just an annoyance. In some cases, it may be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious condition that can increase your risk of developing heart disease and several other health conditions. Our Columbia, SC, sleep specialist, Dr. Richard Bogan of Bogan Sleep Consultants, shares some information about sleep apnea and explains how it's treated.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing multiple times throughout the night. Each episode lasts 10 seconds or longer. During the time you're not breathing, your brain is deprived of oxygen. Over time, oxygen deprivation can increase the likelihood that you'll develop high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmia and type 2 diabetes.
How can I tell if I have sleep apnea?
In addition to snoring, other signs of sleep apnea include:
- Frequent Waking: Do you ever jerk awake or wake up gasping for breath? These actions force you to begin breathing again.
- Breathing Pauses: You may not necessarily jerk awake if your breathing pauses only last seconds. Ask others if they've noticed that you seem to stop breathing while you sleep.
- Fatigue: Not surprisingly, it can be very hard to stay awake when you don't get enough sleep during the day. Lack of sleep can cause irritability and make it hard to concentrate at work or school or even stay awake when driving on Columbia highways.
- Morning Headaches: If you wake up with a headache that gradually goes away, you may have sleep apnea.
- Weight Gain: If you're exhausted all the time, you probably don't feel like exercising. Unfortunately, gaining weight can make sleep apnea worse. Weight gain isn't restricted to your abdomen and thighs. If you're overweight, you may also have excess tissue in your throat. During the night, your muscles, including those in your throat, relax. When this occurs, your airway may narrow or even collapse completely, causing sleep apnea symptoms.
How can a sleep consultant help me?
A sleep study is the first step in the diagnosis process. If the test reveals that you have sleep apnea, you may benefit from a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. The machine sends a continuous flow of air into your throat during the night, which keeps your airway open.
Don't let sleep apnea damage your health. Call our Columbia, SC, sleep specialist, Dr. Bogan of Bogan Sleep Consultants, at (803) 251-3093 to schedule an appointment.