Don't Ignore the Snore: It Could Be Sleep Apnea

Are you a snorer? If so, join the club. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that about half of people will be snorers at some point in their life. Men are more likely to snore than women; about 40% of men and 24% of women are habitual snorers. 

Those who are not habitual snorers often snore when sleeping on their back, dealing with a cold, or after consuming alcohol and/or other depressants.

For about half of the 90 million snorers in the United States, the biggest danger their snoring poses is an angry bed partner. The other half, though, may be suffering from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes fatigue and can lead to a host of dangerous health issues. Learn more about this condition and what you can do to treat it.

Does your partner complain about relentless snoring or do you find that you never seem to get a restful night of sleep? Our experts at Apex Medical Professionals can help. Walid Elkhalili, MD,  and the rest of our practice work with you to see if sleep apnea is the root of your sleep issues. Dr. Elkhalili places a high priority on preventive care, wellness strategies, and health education.

On snoring

Snoring is caused by vibrating tissues in the airways of your nose and throat. When you’re breathing clearly, air passes through without interruption. But when the airway is clogged or partially blocked, the air vibrates the tissue as it’s forced through; this produces the ever-recognizable snoring sound.

How sleep apnea is different

Obstructive sleep apnea, by far the most common form of the condition, occurs when airwaves aren’t just clogged, but totally blocked. It occurs when the tissues that support your tongue and soft palette, which contains the uvula, combine to totally block air as your body tries to inhale. 

Your blood oxygen levels drop and your brain, realizing this, wakes you up just enough to take a breath. People with severe sleep apnea may wake up over 30 times per hour all night.

Symptoms

Daytime fatigue is one of the most frequent symptoms of sleep apnea. The repeated awakenings associated with sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. As a result, you may experience drowsiness and increased irritability. Other symptoms include: 

Sleep partners and other members of the household often know someone is suffering from sleep apnea before the patient themselves. If you notice someone snoring loudly and sometimes gasping, let them know.

Sleep apnea complications

Sleep apnea is more than a mild aggravation and has been linked to multiple dangerous conditions, including:

Fatigue-related accidents, including car wrecks, are also a risk for sleep apnea patients.

Risk factors

Sleep apnea is often caused by a variety of factors. Men are more prone to sleep apnea because they have narrower air passages. Other risk factors include: 

Treatments for sleep apnea can vary. Weight loss is often recommended; losing just 10% of your body weight can have a big effect. Many patients also experience relief after they stop smoking. 

People with more severe sleep apnea may need to use a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine. These devices use air pressure to keep your throat from closing.   

Do you think you have sleep apnea? Dr. Elkhalili can diagnose and treat this condition to ensure you get the sleep you deserve. Call or request an appointment at our Fair Lawn, New Jersey, office today.

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