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Sleep apnea is a common condition that is characterized by the repetitive obstruction of airflow into your lungs during sleep, causing repeated pauses in breathing and resulting in negative health risks if left untreated. It is estimated over 18 million Americans suffer from this condition. For those affected, their airway to the lungs is most commonly blocked at the throat level of the soft palate. However, it is possible that obstructions appear in different levels of the throat.
How Do I know If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is the most common symptom in patients. Those affected can stop breathing throughout the night, leading to severe sleep disturbance. The brain however, will continuously wake the individual to resume a normal breathing pattern, causing them to become more fatigued and tired throughout the day than others. Common symptoms may include:
How Do You Get Sleep Apnea?
During sleep, the tongue, excess throat tissue, or relaxed throat muscles can block the airway passage to the lungs. As breathing reduces or stops, the body begins struggling for air and the oxygen level in the blood drops. The brain will wake the affected individual to resume the normal breathing for four or five breaths until the oxygen level rises and the individual then falls back to sleep. This repetitive process can continue throughout the night, resulting in:
What Test Diagnoses Sleep Apnea?
Diagnosing sleep apnea involves an overnight sleep study overseen by a board certified sleep doctor completed in one of our state of the art sleep labs or from a take home sleep test. Before your study, sensors will be applied to your body for us to monitor various bodily parameters such as your brain waves, eye movements, oxygen levels, heart rate, and breathing patterns. If the test is done in the lab, you are often able to go about your normal duties the following morning. In some cases, treatment may be started during the night o0f the sleep study. Following your study, results are interpreted by our board certified sleep doctor and the results are communicated and explained to you as well as a copy is sent to your open doctor as directed.
How Do You Treat Sleep Apnea?
There are several treatment modalities. In our clinic, we individualize treatment ensuring we match you to the most appropriate modality after discussion with the specialist.
Available modalities include:
SNORING [ TOP ]
Snoring is the noise that occurs when the flow of air from the mouth or nose to your lungs makes the tissues of your throat vibrate during sleep. Vibrations can be severe leading to loud sounds that may make it hard for you and your partner to sleep peacefully. Almost 90 million American adults suffer from this sleep disorder. It may have untoward effects on you and your partner.
Why Do I Snore?
As you sleep the muscles in your throat can start to relax, causing your tongue to fall back and your throat to narrow. As breathing occurs vibrations are caused when the soft palate and uvula knock against the back of your throat, causing the loud noise you hear. A narrower airway can cause greater vibrations and therefore louder sounds from the sleeping individual.
Does Snoring Pose Any Health Risks?
Chronic and habitual snoring may be a marker for more serious health problems. About one-half of these individuals suffer from obstructive sleep apnea which results when the passage to your lungs is blocked and your breathing can stop repeatedly while you sleep. Sleep apnea can cause severe problems to an affected individual:
Sleep apnea is a significant risk factor for other medical conditions, such as heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure. If you believe you or your partner suffer from sleep apnea then consult with a certified sleep doctor immediately. Texas Sleep Medicine provides consultations and sleep tests with our patients and if a sleep apnea diagnosis is made we will discuss further treatment options so you can sleep peacefully and live a healthier lifestyle.
How Is It Diagnosed?
A diagnosis can
be made depending on if your partner is aware of it, it runs in
your family, or if you haven’t been sleeping well at night.
Snoring can be the result of other sleep disorders, such as sleep
How to Stop Snoring:
Firstly, any underlying disorder such as sleep apnea if present should be treated. Other steps to take include:
RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME [ TOP ]
Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) is an uncomfortable feeling or sensation in the legs that is relieved by moving or stimulating the legs. Through movement, the individual is provided with temporary relief and reduction of any pain associated with the disorder. Sensations often occur at night and during sleep, but can happen throughout the day while the body is at rest, such as while riding in the car, watching TV, reading, or lying down. Having a mild case may not cause disturbance to your sleep, however, it can lessen your quality of sleep making you feel more tired during the day.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome?
The primary symptom is the uncomfortable sensations felt in an individual’s leg during inactivity. These sensations are paired with an urge to move their legs until the feeling subsides. It may be hard for some to describe the sensations they feel, if they have this disorder they may feel:
What Causes Restless Leg Syndrome?
In some cases, the cause may be unknown to physicians. It is most commonly known to affect those over the age of 45, however, it can appear in patients at any age. As an individual gets older, the likelihood of having the disorder increases. It also appears more frequently in women than it does in men. Genetics play an important role, having a family member with this disorder means you are more likely to develop it before the age of 45. Other health-related concerns that can be a likely cause are listed below:
Are There Any Associated Health Risks?
Most individuals affected with this disorder do not view it as a serious health risk and therefore do not receive treatment. If left untreated, symptoms can become more severe, causing more suffering to the individual and a possibility of acquiring other associated health risks. Those who are severely affected may receive less than 5 hours of sleep at night due to the common interruptions that can occur. Over time the loss of sleep can reduce an individual’s quality of life.
How Can Restless Leg Syndrome Be Diagnosed?
In order to receive a diagnosis, you will want to schedule an appointment with a certified sleep doctor where you will receive a physical examination and have a discussion of your medical history. If there is evidence you may be suffering from this disorder a sleep study will be performed at our center. Following the study, your doctor will interpret the data in order to give you an accurate diagnosis.
What Is The Treatment For Restless Leg Syndrome?
NARCOLEPSY [ TOP ]
Narcolepsy is an uncommon neurological disorder that causes excessive sleepiness throughout the day. This lifelong condition can develop at any age. However, it is most common to appear in adolescence or young adulthood and due to the nature of the disorder it may remain unrecognized as the affected individual ages. It is estimated about one in every 2,000 people are affected with some form of the disorder. An individual with this condition may be overwhelmingly tired throughout the day and in the most severe cases have uncontrollable sleep attacks. Sleep attacks can last anywhere from a minute or in rare cases up to an hour. It’s important to understand that those who live with this condition do not sleep more than the average person but, due to the disorder, they can’t control their timing of sleep and may have difficulty sleeping during nighttime hours.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Narcolepsy?
The most common symptom associated with this condition is excessive sleepiness or falling asleep unexpectedly throughout the day. Some individuals affected with this sleep disorder may be unaware of other symptoms and therefore do not seek treatment.
Other symptoms an affected individual may have can include:
What Are the Health Risks?
The condition is known to develop with age and can be associated with other health risks as it progresses. Having this sleep disorder can impact every aspect of an individual’s life, such as during everyday activities. Operating machinery and motor vehicles can be dangerous and life threatening as a sleep attack can occur at any moment.
How Is It Diagnosed?
To receive a diagnosis, you will want to schedule an appointment with a board certified sleep doctor where you will receive an initial evaluation. An overnight sleep study will be scheduled along with a daytime sleep study called a Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). The MSLT consists of a series of naps spaced throughout the day. This is done to assess the degree of sleepiness and can confirm the diagnosis of narcolepsy and rule out any other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.
What Is the Treatment for Narcolepsy?
Those affected may have many years of excessive sleepiness before seeking any treatment. Medication, good sleep hygiene, and changes in lifestyle are the primary treatment modalities for narcolepsy. Scheduling 20-30 minute naps at specific times throughout the day can help reduce the uncontrollable urge to sleep at undesirable times with fewer disruptions to a person’s daily schedule. Avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine also help provide relief from this condition, as well as maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise.
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