Otolaryngology & Facial Plastic Surgery located in Scottsdale, AZ & Fountain Hills, AZ
Sleep Apnea FAQ
When you have obstructive sleep apnea, your breathing repeatedly stops while you sleep. Patients with a mild case stop breathing 5-15 times every hour. However, you can stop breathing 30 times or more per hour if your sleep apnea is severe.
When you go to sleep, the soft tissues in your mouth and throat relax. As a result, your tongue slides toward the back of your throat, where it can cover the airway and prevent you from breathing.
The rapid drop in oxygen alerts your brain, which nudges you awake just enough to start breathing again.
Children with sleep apnea often have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that block the airway. Nasal polyps or other nasal obstructions can also lead to sleep apnea.
Patients with sleep apnea have symptoms such as:
- Loud snoring
- Daytime fatigue
- Morning headache
- Suddenly waking and gasping for breath
- Difficulty with memory or concentration
- Frequently going to the bathroom at night
Loud snoring is the most common symptom of sleep apnea. Your partner or others in the house often hear a cycle of loud snoring, then silence when you stop breathing, followed by a sudden gasp when you start breathing again.
When Dr. Gergits suspects you have sleep apnea, he orders a sleep study, which is the only way to diagnose the problem.
During a sleep study, you wear sensors that measure your breathing, air flow, and oxygen levels while you sleep. This information shows whether you stop breathing and how often.
Once Dr. Gergits knows the severity of your sleep apnea, he can recommend customized treatment. Underlying conditions such as polyps or enlarged tonsils are treated first.
Patients who are overweight and have mild sleep apnea may stop their apnea by losing weight. Otherwise, sleep apnea is treated with:
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
CPAP is the preferred treatment for moderate-to-severe sleep apnea. This device keeps your airway open by delivering constant air pressure through a mask.
This is a custom-fitted device that’s like a mouthguard. When you wear it at night, it holds your jaw and tongue slightly forward, which prevents your tongue from covering the airway.
Untreated sleep apnea causes serious problems such as high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias, so don’t wait to schedule an appointment if you suspect you have the condition. Call Sinus & Allergy Wellness Center or book an appointment online.