Take Back Your Night

Relief for Sleep Apnea and Snoring

What is sleep apnea (and why is it dangerous)?

Do you snore loudly every night? Are you inexplicably tired during the day? Do you suspect you have sleep apnea? If so, it’s time to wake up. Sleep apnea isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a potentially serious disorder, that causes breathing to stop and start during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times a night per hour.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive: By far the most common type of sleep apnea, this occurs when the airway is repeatedly blocked during sleep, stopping or reducing airflow.
  • Central: This type of sleep apnea doesn’t involve blockage; rather the brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles to keep breathing.
  • Complex: a combination of the above.

 

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis in Los Angeles from an Experienced ENT Doctor

ent doctor marc kayem

Besides disrupted sleep and daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea reduces blood oxygenation, which causes a strain on your physical system. Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can contribute to serious health conditions, including:

  • Inflammation
  • High blood pressure,
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Cancer
  • Cognitive and behavioral disorders, including dementia

Sleep apnea is a serious and unfortunately common condition—and you may not even know you have it. It’s estimated that of the 22 million Americans who have sleep apnea, 80% of those with moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea are undiagnosed.

Snoring and sleep apnea both occur due to obstruction of the breathing airway at the level of the throat. Though not all snoring signals sleep apnea, severe, chronic snoring is one of the warnings signs of sleep apnea, and the most common reason for sufferers to seek help.

Chronic loud snoring and/or gasping for air is the most common reason people (or their partners) suspect sleep apnea, but there are other severe sleep apnea symptoms, including

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dry mouth or headache upon waking
  • Decreased libido and/or sexual dysfunction
  • Attention, concentration, and memory issues
  • Waking up often to urinate
  • Irritability and unexplained mood swings

Men are the most common sufferers of sleep apnea, though woman and children can experience, it too. Additional warning signs of sleep apnea for women and men include fatigue, depression, headache, anxiety, and insomnia. Children’s severe sleep apnea symptoms include hyperactivity, bedwetting, asthma exacerbations, and behavioral and learning issues.

Sleep apnea is as individual as each patient. Once we understand the nature and severity of each individual’s sleep apnea, we know how to best treat it. In order to prescribe the appropriate treatment for sleep apnea relief, Dr. Kayem uses a four-pronged evaluation.

  1. Physical exam: Some causes of sleep apnea are anatomical and easily discovered during a physical exam, a large tongue for example, or a nasal blockage.
  2. A history and evaluation of symptoms: We look for the warning signs of sleep apnea noted above, and evaluate them based on their severity.
  3. A partner’s observations: Bed partners are often the best source of information about nighttime breathing patterns.
  4. Sleep study: We partner with experts to conduct comfortable in-lab or in-home sleep studies.

 

While there are many benefits to living in the Greater Los Angeles area, there is new research that air pollution can exacerbate sleep apnea. Wildfire smoke, pollen and allergens can lead to more severe symptoms in a similar way that asthma cases increase with higher air pollution.

While there are often anatomical reasons behind chronic sleep apnea, it is worth noting how environmental factors can make a patient’s situation worse. If you live near a freeway, work outdoors during spring and fall or live in an older home, consider lowering exposure to air pollution.