What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is defined as a reduction or cessation of breathing during sleep due to blockage of the nose and/or throat. This can result in a decrease in oxygen in the blood and disruptions in sleep in which the body attempts to restart breathing.

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What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Besides snoring, you may stop breathing, gasp or snort in your sleep, wake up tired after a full night’s sleep, experience morning headaches, feel sleepy during the day, have problems with memory or concentration, and feel irritable. Sleep apnea also makes you more likely to develop certain other problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and stroke.

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How do you evaluate snoring and apnea?

To learn more about your snoring and possible sleep apnea, you need a thorough evaluation by an otolaryngologist. Your doctor will take a health history that includes detailed questions about your chief complaint, other symptoms, and any treatment you may have already had. A physical examination is performed in the office to evaluate the air passages. This may include a fiberoptic endoscopy in which a flexible telescope is placed through the nose and down into the throat. This is done with topical anesthesia and with minimal discomfort.

An overnight sleep study (polysomnogram) is the diagnostic test for sleep apnea. The sleep study involves spending a night at a sleep clinic where your breathing, heart rate, oxygen level, and other physiologic functions are measured and recorded. The findings help determine whether you have sleep apnea and which treatments will best help you.

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