What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common and is caused by a blockage of the airway. In central sleep apnea, your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. One of our specialists can determine your type of sleep apnea.
There are many risk factors for developing sleep apnea. Excess weight and family history increases the risk of sleep apnea. Also, nasal congestion makes it more likely that you could suffer from sleep apnea. Experts agree that breathing through the mouth can interfere with sleep. So, if you experience consistent nasal congestion, you’re more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea. That’s why it’s important to treat your allergies and sinus problems that contribute to your nasal congestion.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
The symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Waking up with a very sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
- Occasionally waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Sleepiness or lack of energy during the day
- Restless sleep
- Forgetfulness and mood changes
If you experience these symptoms, contact the allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers for a proper diagnosis.
How Do You Diagnose Sleep Apnea?
Physicians use nocturnal polysomnography, also known as a sleep study, to diagnose sleep apnea. During this test, you’re hooked up to equipment that monitors your heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while you sleep. Some physicians ask you to report to a sleep center lab to perform the sleep study. However, the allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers allow you to participate in this study from the comfort of your own home.
The results are then analyzed by one of our specialists to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea. While diagnosing sleep apnea is a process, it’s essential to identify and treat this sleep disorder to prevent further health issues. Over time, untreated sleep apnea gives rise to high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and other life-threatening diseases.
How Do You Treat Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is usually treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or oral sleep apnea appliance. A CPAP machine treats sleep apnea by pushing air into your airways to keep them open. The machine has a pump that controls the airflow and a mask that goes over your mouth, nose, or both. Many patients, as reported in this sleep apnea study, report a certain discomfort with CPAP machines as they adjust to the noise and having to wear a mask while sleeping.
Oral appliances are an alternative treatment for many patients who can’t use or don’t want to use PAP therapy. Oral sleep appliances support the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open airway. Research shows that dental appliances are effective in significantly improving sleep apnea. Our allergists craft a custom-fitted oral sleep appliance for patients diagnosed with sleep apnea. This appliance is more convenient and comfortable than a CPAP machine.
If you need treatment for your sleep apnea or want to switch from a CPAP machine to one of our oral sleep appliances, book an appointment online or call (212) 686-4448.