Untreated sleep apnea increases your risk of problems such as high blood pressure and irregular heart rhythms. Sleep apnea also aggravates existing lung conditions and triggers problems like pulmonary hypertension. As a lung and sleep medicine specialist, Raees Ahmed, MD, at Healing Lungs in Conroe, Texas, offers the comprehensive care you need to effectively treat sleep apnea and start getting the refreshing sleep you need to stay healthy. To schedule an appointment for a sleep apnea assessment, call the office or use the online booking feature.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your breathing briefly stops while you sleep. In a mild case of sleep apnea, you have 5-15 apnea episodes every hour. If you have severe sleep apnea, you may stop breathing 30 times or more per hour.
Your breathing stops when soft tissues like your tongue relax, fall toward the back of your mouth, and cover your airway. You start to snore when soft tissues partially block the airway, and you stop breathing when the airway is completely covered.
As oxygen levels drop, your brain reacts, waking you just enough to take a breath and start breathing again.
Virtually everyone with sleep apnea snores, but the list of common symptoms includes:
You probably won’t realize you snore until others in the household mention it. They may also notice repeated cycles of loud snoring, sudden silence when you stop breathing, and a gasp or snort when your breathing resumes.
An overnight sleep study is the only way to diagnose sleep apnea accurately. Most patients qualify for home sleep testing rather than needing to go to a sleep lab.
During home testing, you wear a finger sensor, an elastic band around your chest, and nasal cannulas in both nostrils. While you sleep, they measure oxygen levels, breathing, and airflow, automatically sending the data to a recording device. Dr. Ahmed downloads the information and uses it to diagnose sleep apnea.
The first line of treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). As you wear a mask over your nose and/or mouth, the CPAP device delivers constant air pressure that keeps your airway open.
If you have moderate sleep apnea and can’t tolerate CPAP, a customized mouthguard is another treatment option. The oral appliance gently holds your jaw and tongue in a forward position so it can’t fall back and cover your airway.
Lifestyle changes are sometimes all you need if you have mild sleep apnea. For example, not drinking alcohol before bedtime and losing weight, if necessary, may stop your sleep apnea.
If housemates complain about loud snoring and you feel tired during the day, call Healing Lungs or schedule an appointment online to learn if you have sleep apnea.