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Sleep Apnea SOS: Royal Oak's Wake-Up Call for Better, More Restorative Sleep

If you wake up in the morning feeling groggy -- no matter how long you've slept -- you might have sleep apnea. Or maybe your spouse or significant other jokes about your snoring -- you might have sleep apnea.

Believe it or not, sleep apnea is a common condition that affects millions of people, and can drastically impact daily life, as well as overall health -- especially if not treated in a timely manner.

That's where we come into play.

As a trusted sleep apnea doctor in Royal Oak, Michigan, we're dedicated to increasing awareness of this disorder and helping clients live better lives through the right treatment options -- whether that be changes to your lifestyle, a CPAP machine, or surgery.

However, before we can diagnose or treat this disorder, a consultation is in order. So let's take a look at sleep apnea, what it is, its symptoms, and what can be done about it.

Sleep Apnea: Why It Has You Fighting for Every Breath

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly throughout the night. Breathing can halt for just a few seconds to much longer, sometimes causing the person suffering from it to wake up.

While an occasional stop of breathing might seem like a small thing, this stop-start cycle can happen dozens or multiple times per night, leading to reduced oxygen flow to the body and the brain. This is why patients with sleep apnea are so fatigued. Their bodies are essentially suffocated throughout the night.

There are two types of sleep apnea - obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

  • OSA - OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the throat muscles relax, blocking the flow of air into the lungs.
  • CSA - CSA is less common and occurs when the brain doesn't send the correct signals to the muscles that control breathing.

In addition, a third type of sleep apnea -- known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea -- can sometimes occur. This condition, also known as complex sleep apnea, is the result of OSA that's diagnosed through a sleep study and treated, but converts into CSA during OSA treatment.

Symptoms & Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

Both OSA and CSA have overlapping symptoms, which means a sleep study is the only real way to determine which form a patient has. That being said, if a person is suffering from any of these symptoms or a combination of them, it's important that they see a sleep specialist as soon as possible.

Some of the most common symptoms of OSA and CSA include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Stopping and starting breathing throughout the night while sleeping
  • Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Irritability

There are several factors that play into a person's chances of developing sleep apnea. These factors are different for both kinds of sleep apnea, so let's take a look at each individual one.

We'll start with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA):

  • Men or people assigned male at birth are usually more likely to develop OSA.
  • OSA is more likely to occur in those who have larger tongues and a shorter lower jaw.
  • Excess weight has been associated with OSA in multiple studies.
  • Some research has found that smoking can increase the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.
  • A family history of sleep apnea has been associated with developing the condition.
  • Nasal congestion has been linked to a higher likelihood of OSA.

Next, we'll take a look at central sleep apnea (CSA):

  • People over 65 are at higher risk of developing CSA.
  • CSA is more common in men or people assigned male at birth.
  • Chronic use of opioids and some prescription medications has been shown to increase the risk of developing CSA.
  • Those living in high-altitude environments are more likely to develop CSA due to the decreased availability of oxygen.

The Rontal Clinic: The Breath of Fresh Air You've Been Waiting For

If you're experiencing chronic fatigue, gasping for breath, or any of the other symptoms listed above, it's important to see a sleep specialist to determine if you have sleep apnea, and if so, what kind.

As a certified sleep apnea doctor in the Detroit, Michigan and Royal Oak, Michigan areas, we can help determine the type of sleep apnea you have.

Diagnosing sleep apnea begins with a review of your health history and a physical exam to detect signs of sleep apnea and identify any risk factors for sleep apnea that you might have.

From there, a sleep study (also known as a polysomnography) will be scheduled. During the sleep study, multiple sensors will be used to monitor breathing, oxygen levels, muscle movement, sleep stages, any instances of wakefulness, and other aspects of sleep.

So, what about treatment? 

There are several treatment options used to help patients suffering from sleep apnea. To begin, we'll recommend things that you can do at home to help decrease the instances of your sleep apnea.

Losing weight, exercising regularly, altering your sleep position, reducing alcohol consumption -- these things can all greatly reduce the impact that sleep apnea has on you.

In addition, patients who need further help may be prescribed a CPAP machine. This machine uses Continuous Positive Airway Pressure to help patients with sleep apnea get enough oxygen throughout the night.

BiPAP (bi-level positive airway pressure) and APAP (auto-titrating positive airway pressure)treatments may be prescribed if deemed a better fit than simple CPAP.

Need Better Sleep? Contact Us Today!

If you're experiencing chronic fatigue, drowsiness, irritability, or any of the other symptoms listed earlier, then you could benefit from an exam and sleep study.

Don't worry -- we have you covered!

Contact The Rontal Clinic today by calling or texting us at (248) 737-4030. Once you schedule a consultation with one of our trusted Royal Oak ENT doctors, we'll walk you through the entire process to reduce the element of surprise, and will be by your side to answer any questions you might have.

Should you decide to move forward, we'll be there every step of the way, evaluating your sleep study and prescribing the right treatment for you.