Sleep Apnea FAQs
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which you regularly stop breathing for short periods of time throughout the night. This may occur because your brain is not sending the right message to muscles or because your throat closes while sleeping. In some cases, both of these could be happening. These intermittent pauses in breath result in restless sleep.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
Snoring, gasping or choking while breathing are among the most common sleep apnea symptoms, but you may also have sleep apnea if you are often fatigued during the day. Depression, irritability and a low libido could also be symptoms of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea could cause you to wake up with a sore throat, a dry mouth or a headache. If you have high blood pressure, you might also have sleep apnea.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Snoring and other symptoms can point to the possibility of sleep apnea, but you need a sleep study to make a definite diagnosis. By monitoring your sleep, either in a home sleep test or at a lab, a sleep specialist can determine whether your symptoms are the result of sleep apnea. At the Low T Center, we believe home sleep studies are more convenient and easier to obtain than lab studies because they occur in your normal sleeping environment and provide accurate data about how you usually sleep.
What causes sleep apnea?
Obesity is one of the main causes of sleep apnea. Some cases of sleep apnea may also be hereditary. Large tonsils or a large tongue might be more likely to block your airway. You can also develop sleep apnea if you are slim and have no family history of the condition.
How do you treat sleep apnea?
Some cases of sleep apnea can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as weight loss. However, a continuous positive airway pressure device, or CPAP device, may be necessary to treat more serious cases. This is a mask that fits over your mouth and nose to help keep your airway open. When you are treated with a CPAP device by the Low T Center, the device transmits data back to us each time you use it. This allows us to make adjustments so that you are getting the maximum comfort and benefits from the device.
Why is it important to treat sleep apnea?
In addition to such symptoms as depression, irritability, a lack of concentration and fatigue, sleep apnea can have more serious long-term consequences. Not breathing regularly while you are sleeping can cause a drop in the oxygen levels in your blood. This puts a strain on your heart – and brain – and increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure or suffering from a stroke or heart attack. Effective treatment for sleep apnea improves your quality of life and your overall health.
Is wearing a CPAP device uncomfortable?
For some people, it takes a few days or a few weeks at most to adjust to sleeping with a CPAP. Our sleep team can help you choose the best mask for you given your sleeping style (side, back or belly sleeper, mouth or nose breathing, still or restless) and make adjustments to mask fit to help you with your comfort level with the mask and device. We also have a Sleep Helpline that you can call during normal business hours to have our Sleep Respiratory Therapist answer any questions you may have when you start to use your CPAP. Most people find that the benefits of a good night’s sleep over the long term make up for a short adjustment period.