We often toss around the term “sleep apnea” as if there’s only one form of the condition. While sleep apnea is indeed a disorder that stops your breathing, there are different types that cause this to occur for specific reasons.
As an experienced ENT in New York, Dr. Vandana Kumra brings her expertise in the ears, nose, throat, and sinuses to diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. If you struggle with daytime fatigue even after a good night’s sleep, or you’re a loud snorer, here’s what you should know about sleep apnea.
Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea
Estimates vary about the number of Americans with sleep disorders. After all, it’s hard to know if you have a problem while you’re sleeping. Unfortunately, this condition can cause serious health complications and even become life-threatening when left untreated. That’s because sleep apnea deprives your body of oxygen, causing your entire system to work harder than normal.
The telltale signs of sleep apnea often include loud snoring, gasping for air, or pauses in breathing. However, there are signs you can detect while awake, including:
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Having frequent headaches, especially in the morning
- Experiencing problems falling or staying asleep
- Facing challenges concentrating or focusing
- Feeling excessively tired during the day
- Being irritable or impatient
If this list sounds familiar, it’s time to see Dr. Kumra, and she can help determine what’s to blame for your symptoms.
The different forms of sleep apnea
SAll types of sleep apnea may cause the same problem — stops and starts in breathing — but there are three different reasons this can occur.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
This is the most common cause of sleep apnea. OSA occurs when soft tissue relaxes in the back of your mouth and throat, causing a blockage in your airway. At this point, breathing becomes difficult or even impossible, leading to a stoppage in breathing.
In most cases, your risks of OSA increase as you age, especially men over 40. It’s also more common in overweight or pregnant people and individuals who sleep on their backs.
Central sleep apnea
Unlike OSA, central sleep apnea is far less common. This form of sleep apnea occurs because of a neurological problem. Simply put, you don’t breathe because your brain and nervous system stop sending consistent signals to your muscles that you should; so, you stop breathing.
What sets central sleep apnea apart from OSA is the fact that it doesn’t cause loud snoring. Instead, it’s more common to experience other sleep apnea symptoms, such as insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and trouble concentrating.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome
To add more complexity to this sleep disorder, you can also have a combination of OSA and central sleep apnea. When this occurs, you have complex sleep apnea syndrome.
Sometimes, having both forms becomes obvious during a sleep study. However, it can also get confirmed later if your condition doesn’t improve with traditional sleep apnea treatments.
Diagnosing sleep apnea
As a sleep apnea specialist, Dr. Kumra can help diagnose your condition and recommend treatment.
During your consultation, Dr. Kumra discusses your symptoms and evaluates your head and neck. Based on her findings, she could also perform an upper endoscopy to examine the inside of your throat and neck for structural issues or other problems that can lead to breathing issues while sleeping.
Finally, Dr. Kumra could recommend a sleep study to measure your vital signs, including heart rate and respiration, while you sleep.
In most cases, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) can address sleep apnea symptoms. This device delivers a steady stream of air into your nose and mouth while you sleep so your airway remains open, which keeps you breathing normally.
However, if you have structural issues interfering with your breathing, Dr. Kumra could suggest sinus or throat surgery to correct the problem.
Do you think you have sleep apnea? Dr. Kumra can guide you through the diagnosis and treatment process. Contact our office in New York City to schedule a consultation by calling 646-859-6136 or booking online today.