Do you or your child snore? Are you still tired after a good night's rest? Do you often wake gasping for air or coughing? If so, you may have a condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, also known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (or OSA), is a potentially life-threatening condition, which causes breathing to repeatedly stop and start over the course of your sleep cycle each night. 

Sleep apnea affects over 30 million Americans and millions more are predisposed to developing sleep apnea due to risk factors. 

Are you worried that you or your child might have sleep apnea?

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Sleep Apnea Explained

During normal sleep, your throat muscles relax. If your throat is crowded due to obesity or other physical attributes, your airway can collapse during sleep and block your airflow. When airflow stops, your blood oxygen levels drop, which causes your brain to wake up.

When you have sleep apnea, this cycle may repeat hundreds of times during the night while you have no idea it is happening!

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Common sleep apnea warning signs:

  • Loud snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Dry or sore throat in the morning
  • Waking up to choking or gasping
  • Fatigue, tiredness or moodiness during the day
  • Difficulty concentrating at work or school 
  • Hyperactivity or bedwetting in children

Risk Factors 

Some people are more prone to sleep apnea due to physiological or medical issues. These include:

  • Obesity
  • A small jaw, with a thick neck
  • Long soft palate and uvula 
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • High blood pressure

Complications

Left undiagnosed, severe sleep apnea can increase your risk of the following medical conditions:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes 
  • Heart attack, stroke or cardiac arrest during sleep
  • Slow growth and/or learning deficits in children 

Diagnosis 

For pediatric patients, the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing is made by taking a thorough medical history and physical examination. 

For adults and in some pediatric cases, it can be necessary to do an overnight sleep study called a polysomnography

A polysomnography sleep study measures your heart rate, brain waves, chest movement, airflow and oxygen levels while you sleep, as well as eye and leg movements. 

Non-surgical Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea 

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
  • Lifestyle Changes 
  • Tongue Base Reduction 

Surgical Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea 

In cases when non-invasive treatments fail, a surgical solution might be necessary.

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