When loud snoring is interrupted by moments of obstructed breathing, this condition is referred to as sleep apnea. It is the most worrisome type of snoring, as it may contribute to serious medical conditions like high blood pressure. Millions of snorers are unaware that they awake briefly, hundreds of times a night when they fail to breathe because they can't inhale enough air. Since sleep apnea prevents a deep sleep pattern, the snorer will feel tired even after many hours of rest.
Snorers who suffer from sleep apnea don't ever achieve a deep sleep pattern because a free, uninterrupted flow of oxygen can't reach their brain. The tension of constant tightening of the muscles in response to lack of oxygen prevents deep sleep levels, causing the snorer to feel tired in the morning and throughout the day. Snorers with sleep apnea often feel drowsy during sedentary activities such as reading or driving.
The disorder is much more common in men than in women and usually intensifies with age. However, it sometimes affects children.
To accurately diagnose sleep apnea, we recommend a sleep study or polysomnography to record a complete profile of your breathing patterns during sleep. This is performed at a hospital sleep lab.
Although most sleep studies were performed in a sleep laboratory, more and more patients can be monitored in the comfort of their own home. Sleeping as you do normally enables you to exhibit your typical sleep patterns. The painless procedure is usually completed in one night. Dr. McMahan will notify you if you are a candidate for this type of sleep study.
Mild sleep apnea can often be resolved through behavioral and lifestyle modifications like weight loss, sleeping on your side, using medication to unblock your nose and avoiding alcohol, sedatives and exercise before going to bed.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) can also help if you have sleep apnea. CPAP forces air into the nasal passages and keeps the airway open during sleep. Depending on the severity of your apnea, surgery to the uvula/ palate may be required. Dr. McMahan will discuss which option is best for you.