Sleep Apnea is a medical condition in which patients have shallow breathing, or stop breathing temporarily during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is a specific sleep disorder when there are intermittent episodes of not breathing during sleep. The sleep disorder mostly affects the population of middle-aged men and women. The common risk factors among those people who develop obstructive sleep apnea are high blood pressure, narrow airway, chronic nasal congestion, age, smoking, and diabetes. The main related symptoms patients should be aware are daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, chest pain, high blood pressure, and insomnia.
The sleep disorder happens when the muscles at the back of the throat that support the soft palate, uvula, and tonsils relax so much that they obstruct regular breathing. Due to the lack of oxygen, the brain will arouse the person from their sleep for regular breathing. However, many people do not notice the disruptions in their sleeping and do not remember any instance of uncomfortable sleeping. Diagnoses may be made based on the evaluations of signs, examinations, and tests. During a polysomnography (PSG), a technologist measures factors such as airflow, blood oxygen levels, breathing patterns, and heart rate before counting the number of times breathing was impaired during sleep. The number of times that one stops breathing in an hour determine whether OSA is mild, moderate, or severe.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment
There are many types of treatments available for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment that requires patients to wear a mask over their nose and/or mouth that uses air pressure to make sure the airway is open for each breath. The air pressure level and type of mask used are tailored to each individual. Alternative treatments using surgery are also available, especially for people who have abnormal tissues that partially cause the sleep disorder. A few examples are a nasal surgery corrects a deviated septum, throat surgery to remove excess tissue, or implanting an upper airway stimulator device in the upper chest that detects the person’s breathing rate and keeps the airways open to prevent any breathing problems.
At Integrated Neurology Services, we provide extensive treatment options to help patients with obstructive sleep apnea get the care they need and deserve. We have sleep centers in two of our offices, so that we can offer the whole spectrum from consultation, to diagnosis and treatment, as well as follow up. If you are in the Northern Virginia area, call us today to schedule an appointment. Help is only a phone call or click away.