Snoring – What You Need to Know
There is a condition called sleep apnea that commonly goes unnoticed by the individual. Sleep apnea is when someone has a chronic (ongoing) snoring condition. They often snore, stop, and then start again. More importantly, this means that they also stop breathing, as many as five to thirty times per hour (or more) during sleep. Sometimes the snorer will wake up choking or gasping for air, before falling back into the same pattern.
Sleep apnea not only prevents restful sleep, but it’s also associated with daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver problems, heart failure, and more recently, early onset memory loss.
Signs of sleep apnea
Besides the snoring and pauses in breathing, there are other signs that point to sleep apnea, like fighting sleepiness during the day, while at work, or even while driving. Sleep apnea sufferers may find themselves rapidly falling asleep during quiet moments, like sitting down to watch tv.
Other signs of sleep apnea include:
- Morning headaches
- unable to concentrate
- irritability, depression
- mood swings
- frequent urinating during the night
- dry mouth or sore throat in the mornings
- loud snoring
- high blood pressure
- decreased libido
With a combinations of medical and family histories, physical exams, and sleep study results, the doctor can diagnose whether or not sleep apnea is the cause for the snoring. The doctor may evaluate the symptoms and rule out any other causes before deciding if a sleep specialist is needed.
When you decide it is time for you or your partner to see a sleep medicine specialist, you will probably find it helpful to keep track of your sleep habits. You should also include all the times you (or your partner) doze off during the day too. This information may give your doctor a clearer view of your sleep patterns.
If your doctor decides you need a sleep study, there are a couple of tests they may recommend. The first is known as polysomnography; this is often performed in a sleep lab where you are hooked up to equipment that monitors heart, lung, brain, breathing, arm, and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels during sleep. Some sleep studies can be completed at home. Your sleep medicine doctor will advise you about which tests are right for you.
Why Have a Sleep Study?
Having a sleep study may help rule out other sleep disorders like narcolepsy, which also causes excessive daytime sleepiness. After the results of the sleep study tests are analyzed, the next step is most likely a CPAP. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine provides a constant flow of pressurized air through a fitted mask, which helps to maintain an open airway when you sleep.
Not only can you and your partner get a better night’s sleep, but your doctor can keep an eye on the other problems that sleep apnea may point to. While snoring may just be the only visible the tip of the iceberg, what is hiding down below may cause more problems in the long run if not caught and treated in time. If you or a loved one struggles to get a good night’s sleep because of snoring or some other sleep disorder, call Gingras Sleep Medicine at (704) 944-0562 to request an appointment.