Do you snore? Do you have a loved one who does? For some, snoring can be a minor issue; however, it can also be a sign of a more serious condition called sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes the important breathing airways to become obstructed or inefficient, hindering or halting breathing during sleep. Patients who suffer from sleep apnea often breathe or snore loudly because they have difficulty taking in the appropriate amount of oxygen. This can awaken them, causing a decrease in the quality of their sleep, and that of their partner.

What causes Sleep Apnea?

There are a few common causes of sleep apnea, and they are generally categorized into two types, although some patients can suffer from a mixture of both:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the throat muscles relaxing during sleep, meaning they cannot support the airway, causing it to narrow. This type is usually the least-noticeable kind of sleep apnea, as most patients don’t truly wake up when the brain rouses them to take in more oxygen.
  • Central sleep apnea is less common and is caused by the brain failing to communicate with the respiratory system. This can result in long pauses in breathing that can cause patients to wake regularly and feel out-of-breath.

When should I see a doctor?

Although sleep apnea can be difficult to diagnose, there are some symptoms to watch out for that might indicate you can benefit from treatment. The primary indicators are fatigue or sleepiness during the day, and constant waking during the night. Some other common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of no breathing or loud breathing
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Headaches
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Weight gain

Sleep apnea can come with some risks that shouldn’t be ignored, including the effects of chronic fatigue, and blood pressure or circulatory complications. Dr. Schultz can discuss any concerns you might have and create a customized treatment plan. Contact our office to schedule an appointment and start getting the rest you need.