Wondering if you have sleep apnea, a common sleeping disorder in which people will stop breathing during the night for a short period of time? If you tend to feel tired all the time, then it is very likely that your sleeping is somehow being interrupted. When you do not get enough sleep, it interferes…
I Might Have Sleep Apnea: What Do I Do Now?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that prevents you from getting a good night’s rest because your breathing repeatedly stops and starts while you are sleeping, interrupting your rest and leaving you tired during the day.
What do I do if I think I have sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects 22 million people in the United States, and health care providers believe that 80 percent of people dealing with the disorder have not been diagnosed. If you have trouble sleeping and think you have sleep apnea, there are a few ways to figure it out.
Sleep apnea symptoms
If you have any of the following symptoms, there is a good chance that you have sleep apnea.
- Having excessive fatigue during the day
- Waking up with a headache in the morning
- Falling asleep while driving
- Waking up at night to gasp for air
- Snoring loudly
- Being irritable
- Struggling to pay attention while you are awake
- Waking up with a dry mouth
If you have any of these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor to get evaluated. Your doctor will suggest trying a few things to see if your sleep pattern improves. If it does not, they will likely refer you to a sleep disorder center for further evaluation.
Before you go to your appointment with your doctor, you can take a sleep apnea test by visiting the American Sleep Apnea Association’s website to take four online tests that can be used to determine if you may have the disorder.
If the sleep specialist your doctor recommended determines that you have sleep apnea, the next step is to determine the best treatment options. In mild cases, the sleep specialist will recommend a few lifestyle changes, like quitting smoking or losing weight. If the lifestyle changes do not improve your sleep, the specialist will recommend other treatment options.
A few of these treatment options include:
CPAP machine: A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is used to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea. The machine uses a mask to deliver air pressure while you sleep. The pressure delivered is greater than the pressure in the surrounding air and keeps your upper airway passages open to prevent snoring and apnea.
Oral appliances: If you have trouble sleeping with a CPAP or other airway pressure devices, the specialist will suggest wearing an oral appliance that is designed to keep your throat open. Even though they are not as effective as CPAPs, they are easier to use.
Surgery: This is considered an option after all other treatments have failed. However, if you have certain jaw structural problems, the specialist may recommend this treatment option first.
Sleep apnea disrupts your quality of life because it prevents you from sleeping through the night and leaves you feeling tired during the day. If you think you have sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get tested and go over your treatment options.
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