Sleep apnea is a widespread problem. It’s so common that you probably know someone with the condition — it could even be you. Since sleep apnea stops your breathing while sleeping, it can seriously jeopardize your health without treatment.
Complications associated with sleep apnea include:
- Increased risk of accidents from daytime fatigue
- Heart problems, including high blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
- Metabolic syndrome
- Liver problems
- Complications with medicines and surgery
- Shortened life
Unfortunately, many people with this risky condition don’t realize it. So, how do you know if you have sleep apnea?
Dr. Vandana Kumra diagnoses and treats sleep apnea at ENT New York. However, there are ways to spot a problem at home. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, Dr. Kumra recommends scheduling an assessment to determine the next steps.
Understanding sleep apnea
There are two reasons a person stops breathing while sleeping — an event known as an “apnea.”
The most common cause is related to a blockage in the airway, often soft tissue that relaxes in the throat. It can also occur when the brain doesn’t signal the muscles controlling your breathing.
When oxygen levels drop, your brain wakes you just enough to breathe. While this is good, it also interferes with a healthy night’s sleep. And, with time, the entire process affects your overall health and wellness.
Signs of sleep apnea
The very nature of sleep apnea often causes telltale signs of a problem while at rest. For instance, people often snore loudly, gasp, stop breathing, or wake repeatedly in the middle of the night.
If you have sleep apnea and have a bed partner, they may notice these symptoms even if you don’t. They may also move to another bedroom or floor of a house because your snoring or repeated gasping and waking disrupts their sleep, too.
Sleep apnea can also cause daytime symptoms that you can watch for on your own, such as:
- Waking exhausted despite a full night’s sleep
- Daytime drowsiness
- Mood changes, including depression and anxiety
- Trouble concentrating or remembering things
- Headaches or a dry mouth, especially upon waking
- Sexual dysfunction
Anyone can develop sleep apnea, which can vary in severity from person to person, so seeing an expert is essential if you notice any signs of the condition.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
Dr. Kumra can often detect sleep apnea during a head and neck evaluation. During this assessment, she might use an endoscopy to check inside the neck and throat for issues affecting the airway.
Depending on your symptoms, Dr. Kumra could also order a sleep study. These evaluations use special equipment to monitor several functions while you sleep, including:
- Heart rate
- Blood oxygen levels
- Brain waves
This information can determine the extent and severity of your disorder.
Once Dr. Kumra diagnoses your condition, she provides personalized recommendations moving forward. The standard treatment for this sleep disorder involves a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, which delivers a constant stream of air while you sleep and keeps the airway open to get the oxygen you need.
Could you have sleep apnea? Contact our office in New York on Central Park West to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kumra today.