Snoring is the harsh sound that occurs when your breathing is partially blocked while sleeping. As you fall asleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth, tongue and throat relax and can block your airway. If the amount of obstruction is severe enough, it can lead to decreased levels of oxygen in your blood.
Almost 50 percent of all adults occasionally snore. While simple lifestyle changes such as weight loss or positional therapy can relieve snoring, it is important to note that snoring may be a symptom of a serious medical problem, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, stroke and even death.
Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Morning headaches
- Sore throat
- Gasping or choking at night
- Chest pain at night
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- High blood pressure that is difficult to control
- Restless and non-restorative sleep
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult with your doctor. They will review your medical history, discuss your symptoms and perform a physical exam. A sleep study, which can be performed in a sleep clinic or in the comfort of your own home, will determine whether you have obstructive sleep apnea. During this study your brain waves, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, sleep stages, movement and breathing rate are measured.
There are many potential treatments for obstructive sleep apnea including positional therapy, surgery or continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP).
A CPAP device, known as the most effective nonsurgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, is used to increase air pressure in your throat while you sleep. This ensures your airflow is powerful enough to keep your airway passage open, preventing pauses in your breathing, daytime sleepiness and fatigue. A face or nasal mask is connected to a pump, which provides a positive flow of air through the mask. The mask must be worn every night. While it may be uncomfortable to some, the results are typically instantaneous and worth the discomfort.
Your board certified sleep medicine doctor can help you determine which therapy is right for you. Contact our office at 337-266-9820 to schedule an appointment.