Your snoring may be more than just a simple nuisance. Did you know that snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea? A serious condition that affects 22 million Americans, sleep apnea can prove to be a serious health concern if left untreated.
At his practice in Idaho Falls, Idaho, otolaryngologist Terry Baker, MD specializes in treating conditions like sleep apnea. That’s why he and his team have compiled this helpful guide to everything that you need to know about the condition.
What is sleep apnea?
A serious sleep disorder, sleep apnea is a condition where you snore loudly and your breath can stop for prolonged and repeated periods of time throughout the night. There are a few things that place you at an increased risk of developing the condition, including:
- Being overweight or obese – Carrying excess weight greatly increases your risk of developing the condition. This is because fat deposits can build up around your airways, physically obstructing your breathing.
- Having a wide neck – Those with thicker necks tend to have narrower airways.
- Having enlarged tonsils – Enlarged tonsils or adenoids can narrow your throat and block your airway.
- Being a man – Men are actually 2 to 3 times more likely to develop sleep apnea.
- Being older – The risk of developing sleep apnea increases as you get older.
- Family history – Those with a family history of sleep apnea are more likely to develop the condition.
- Using substances – If you use substances that relax your throat muscles, you may be bringing about or worsening your sleep apnea.
- Smoking – Smokers are three times more likely to develop obstructive sleep apnea.
You might also be at risk of developing the condition if you have congestive problems, either caused by an obstruction in your nose, like a deviated septum, or by something as simple as allergies.
How do I know I have sleep apnea?
You or your partner may have observed the following symptoms in you while you sleep at night, including:
- Loud snoring
- Gasping for breath
- Stopped breathing
You may also notice the following symptoms while you’re awake, including:
- Impaired focus and cognition
- Dry mouth after waking
- Morning migraines
- Sleepiness during the day
While loud snoring is the most prominent sign of sleep apnea, not everyone who snores loudly has the condition; so if you do snore, you’ll want to get checked just to be safe.
Leaving sleep apnea untreated
Sleep apnea is more than just a snoring problem, it’s a serious health condition. If you leave it untreated, you can increase your risk of developing serious health conditions like:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Type two diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Liver problems
If you suspect you have sleep apnea, you’ll want to come in to get checked as soon as possible. You may need overnight monitoring at a sleep center to diagnose the condition. But once we determine that you do have sleep apnea, we can move on to treating the condition.
You may need to start sleeping with a CPAP machine, a machine that delivers air pressure through a mask that covers your nose while you sleep, to keep your airways open throughout the night.
For more information on sleep apnea, contact Dr. Baker’s practice by calling (208) 552-9530 to make an appointment.