Sleep apnea affects both children and adults, and when it goes untreated, the condition puts you at risk of gaining weight and developing problems like high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias. At Lonestar ENT, Allergy and Aesthetics in Palestine, Texas, Eric Hensen, DO, offers comprehensive care for patients of all ages who may have sleep apnea. If your partner or housemate comments about your loud snoring or you notice snoring in your child, it may be time to have a sleep apnea evaluation. To learn more, call the office or schedule an appointment online.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. If you have a mild case of sleep apnea, your breathing stops 5-15 times every hour. In severe cases, apnea episodes occur 30 times or more per hour.
Your breathing stops when soft tissues such as your tongue relax, move toward the back of your throat, and cover the airway. When the airway is partially blocked, you snore, and when it’s fully covered, your breathing stops.
As soon as you stop breathing, oxygen levels drop. Your brain reacts and nudges you partially awake so you breathe again.
Loud snoring is the top symptom, but in most cases, you don’t realize you snore. Most patients learn about the problem when their partner or others in the household complain about their loud snoring.
In addition to loud snoring, the symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Children with sleep apnea also snore, but their fatigue is often seen in the form of hyperactivity, oppositional behavior, and emotional swings. Children may also walk in their sleep or sleep in unusual positions.
While your symptoms may point to sleep apnea, there’s only one way to make a positive diagnosis and that’s with a sleep study. You may do your sleep study at home with an easy-to-use kit that records your oxygen levels, breathing, and airflow while you sleep.
In severe cases, or if Dr. Hensen suspects you may have a different type of sleep disorder, you may need an overnight sleep study at a clinic.
Patients with mild sleep apnea may improve with lifestyle changes. For example, losing weight is important because carrying extra weight is a primary cause of sleep apnea.
In moderate-to-severe cases, Dr. Hensen recommends continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). When you use CPAP, you wear a mask over your nose and/or mouth, and the CPAP device delivers constant air pressure through the mask that keeps your airway open.
If you can’t tolerate CPAP, you may prefer a customized mouthguard. This oral appliance holds your jaw and tongue in a forward position, preventing the tongue from covering your airway.
To learn more, call Lonestar ENT, Allergy and Aesthetics or schedule an appointment online for a sleep apnea evaluation.