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Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. The main types of this sleep disorder are obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea; the most common is obstructive sleep apnea. This type of apnea occurs when your throat muscles relax too much and block your airway during sleep interrupting sleep. These disruptions impair your ability to experience deep, restful phases of sleep leaving you feeling restless throughout the day.

Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain temporarily stops sending signals to the muscles that control breathing. Certain medications, such as narcotic painkillers, and severe obesity can cause or lead to central sleep apnea. Other conditions that may cause central sleep apnea include brain infections, strokes, or conditions of the cervical spine. Contact one of our NYC allergists to determine the type of sleep apnea you may have.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas overlap which makes it difficult to determine which type you have. The most common symptoms of obstructive and central sleep apneas include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability

While loud snoring is often the first indication of sleep apnea, not everyone with this sleep disorder snores. Many signs of sleep apnea go unnoticed. However, it’s important to seek a diagnosis from a specialist if you awake feeling fatigued, sleepy, and irritable.

Sleep Apnea And TMJ

TMJ (temporomandibular joint) muscles run along your jaw and cheeks. When these muscles tense, it can cause headaches and other symptoms. Many people with TMJ problems also experience sleep apnea. When the airway collapses as it does with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the body’s automatic response is to push the lower jaw forward to open up the airway. This constant motion of the TMJ throughout the night can cause a lot of stress and tension in the jaw joint. 

Tension caused by inflammation due to teeth grinding is common in patients with sleep apnea. Grinding your teeth puts pressure on your TMJ muscles and can wear down your teeth. It can be noisy at night combined with sleep apnea symptoms. Our oral sleep appliances can help control teeth grinding. 

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

One of our allergists can diagnose your sleep apnea. Diagnosis is based on an evaluation of your signs and symptoms and a sleep history. In many cases, we suggest a sleep study. During this sleep study, you are hooked up to equipment that monitors the heart, lung and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels. 

Many specialists refer sleep apnea patients to a sleep center to conduct the study. However, with NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, you can perform the sleep study from the comfort of your home. We make it easy and convenient to diagnose sleep apnea. Call our office at (212) 686-6321 to learn more about our at-home sleep study.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are many treatment options for sleep apnea. A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine increases air pressure in your throat so that your airway doesn’t collapse when you breathe in. The machine has a pump that controls the airflow and a mask that goes over your mouth, nose, or both. You may experience slight discomfort when wearing the mask to bed.

That’s why at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers, we offer oral appliances to treat sleep apnea instead. Oral sleep appliances support the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open airway. You will receive a custom-fitted oral sleep appliance as soon as we diagnose your sleep apnea. You can trust our appliance to provide a more convenient and comfortable solution to your sleep disorder. Book an appointment online or call our office today to treat your sleep apnea.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

The most common cause of sleep apnea is excess weight and obesity. However, anyone can experience sleep disorders, even young children.

Can Allergies Cause Sleep Apnea?

Allergic rhinitis can cause blocked nasal passages. They can lead to snoring or sleep apnea. We suggest treating your allergies to prevent sleep apnea and other problems.

Is Sleep Apnea Hereditary?

Many research studies have found that sleep apnea is about 40% attributable to genetics, which means it can be hereditary. The other 60% attribute to underlying causes that are environmental or lifestyle-related.

What Sleep Position Is Best for Sleep Apnea?

Sleeping on your side is the most ideal for sleep apnea sufferers. When your body is positioned on its side during sleep, the airways are more stable and less likely to collapse or restrict air.

What Is The Difference Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea And Central Sleep Apnea?

Central sleep apnea occurs because your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control your breathing. This differs from obstructive sleep apnea in which you can’t breathe normally because of upper airway obstruction. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than central sleep apnea.

Can You Have Both Obstructive Sleep Apnea And Central Apnea?

Some people with obstructive sleep apnea develop central sleep apnea while using a CPAP machine. This is known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea and is a combination of obstructive and central sleep apneas.

Who Is At Risk of Developing Sleep Apnea?

Men are more likely to have sleep apnea than are women. Also, your risk increases if you are overweight. Women are more likely to suffer from sleep apnea after menopause. Being older can increase your risk of developing sleep apnea.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Many physicians require a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea. You can request a sleep study at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers. 

Who Diagnoses Sleep Apnea?

The allergists at NY Allergy & Sinus Centers can diagnose sleep apnea. You may also visit an ENT doctor, cardiologist, or neurologist. 

How Do You Treat Sleep Apnea?

You can manage sleep apnea with a CPAP machine or oral sleep appliance. It’s also necessary to lose excess weight and treat other conditions that may lead to sleep apnea.