The Doctor Is In: Sleep Apnea

Content is provided by Henry Ford Health System 

Snoring is more than an annoyance to your bed partner. In many cases, loud snoring can signal a more serious sleep disorder, including obstructive sleep apnea.  It's an obstructive sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep.  It is more common in men than women.  The "apnea" in sleep apnea refers to a breathing pause that lasts at least ten seconds.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, despite efforts to breathe. For people with sleep apnea, the combination of disturbed sleep and oxygen starvation may lead to hypertension, heart disease and mood and memory problems.

You may want to get help for sleep issues if sleep problems persist or if they interfere with how you feel or function during the day.   You should seek evaluation and treatment by a physician, preferably one familiar with assessing and treating sleep disorders. It's also recommended to keep a diary of your sleep habits for 10 days to discuss at the visit.

Kathleen Yaremchuk, M.D. Chair, Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, Henry Ford Hospital

People with sleep apnea tend to be sleep deprived, so they may suffer from:

+ sleeplessness and may have difficulty concentrating

+ depression

+ irritability

+ sexual dysfunction

+ learning and memory difficulties

+ falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or driving.

Left untreated, symptoms of sleep apnea can include:

+ disturbed sleep

+ excessive sleepiness during the day

+ high blood pressure

+ heart attack

+ congestive heart failure

+ cardiac arrhythmia

+ stroke

+ depression

Available Treatments for Sleep Apnea

+ CPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
It's the most common treatment for sleep apnea. A machine delivers air pressure through a mask placed over the patient's nose while they sleep.
Typically, this is effective, but it doesn't work for everyone.

+ Implantable Inspire Device is available as an alternative.
It's designed for those who find CPAP uncomfortable and don't use it consistently.
Patients activate the device with a remote before going to bed.