If you notice you have a sore throat in the morning and you have fatigue throughout the day, you might have a case of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a regular disturbance in your sleeping pattern that you overlook. It prevents you from obtaining a deep restorative sleep at critical points through the night and can lead to dangerous health conditions in the long term.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that affects around 22 million Americans. Short breaks in breathing while asleep characterize it. The airways in the throat can become obstructed by a relaxed tongue or soft tissue, which obstructs breathing.

The break-in breathing can last for 10-15 seconds until the brain recognizes that it lacks oxygen and jolts you awake. Often you don’t notice your breathing stop or the jolt, so you aren’t aware you have sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be a severe health concern. The lower end of the risk scale can cause you tiredness and fatigue throughout the day because you miss restorative deep-sleep cycles.

On the higher end of the scale, it can contribute to diabetes and stroke.

The symptoms of sleep apnea

It can be challenging to identify whether you have sleep apnea or not! For example, how often do you observe yourself while asleep? Still, you might have an inclination of the issue following comments from a bed partner about snoring or unexplained daytime fatigue.

The typical sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Frequent loud snoring.
  • Choking or gasping in your sleep.
  • Daytime fatigue.
  • Waking up with a sore throat.

If you experience any of these symptoms in combination with your partner’s comments – you may have sleep apnea.

Although it is difficult to identify sleep apnea, it’s not impossible. For example, you could ask your bed partner to observe you while you sleep; alternatively, you could set up a nighttime camera to record your sleeping patterns.

How is sleep apnea treated?

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you might visit a doctor for an assessment. Your doctor might send you to a sleep center for further evaluation or give you a device called a CPAP. A CPAP machine is a sleep mask that pumps air gently into your airways as you sleep. It helps reduce daytime fatigue and other sleep apnea symptoms.

Depending on the severity of the issue you might your doctor might recommend you spend a night in a clinic for observation. Sleep apnea can be a severe condition leading to heart issues and strokes, so it’s important to assess the severity of the condition. Mild sleep apnea can be treated with a mouth guard or lifestyle changes; severe forms might require a CPAP.

Regardless of your sleep apnea severity, your doctor will recommend lifestyle changes to help reduce your symptoms. Often sleep apnea is caused by excessive soft tissue around the throat that blocks the airways when the muscles are relaxed. You can reduce this soft tissue through healthy eating and exercise.

Some other ways to treat sleep apnea include sleeping on your side, avoiding alcohol, anti-anxiety medication, propping up your head, and avoiding caffeine and heavy meals before bed.

When should you get diagnosed?

If you want to get a diagnosis of sleep apnea, you will have to visit your medical professional. In turn, they might send you to a sleep specialist who will monitor you overnight with a Polysomnogram. This is the gold standard of testing for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is diagnosed from mild to severe based on how many breathing pauses you have in one hour. A mild case of the condition is five to 15 pauses in an hour. A moderate case is 15-30 pauses, and a severe case is more than 30 pauses per hour.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will recommend some treatment based on the severity of the condition. This treatment can range from using a mouth guard or CPAP at night to simple lifestyle changes.

Sleep apnea can be a dangerous condition if left untreated for long periods. The trouble is that sleep apnea is particularly difficult to identify. You need some form of observation at night, either a bed partner, a camera, or a medical device at a special sleep center. You might suspect you have sleep apnea if you have fatigue during the day or a sore throat in the morning.

Treatment for sleep apnea varies! Your diagnoses will determine if you have mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea. In the cases of mild sleep apnea – the most common form of the condition – you can make small lifestyle changes or use a mouthguard. Moderate to severe cases might require the regular use of a CPAP. Learn more about your options by contacting Vero ENT Associates at (772) 408-9556.