Not everyone who snores loudly has sleep apnea, but snoring loud enough to disturb a sleep partner, followed by periods of quiet, could indicate you have sleep apnea. According to Dr. Melissa Garcia, MD, at ThedaCare Physicians-North in Appleton, “Sleep apnea very often goes undiagnosed. It is not normal to snore so loudly that you disturb your sleep partner. Treating sleep apnea is crucial to getting enough oxygen to a person’s brain at a time when he or she should be resting and recovering for the day ahead.”
Sleep apnea happens when muscles in the back of your throat relax and your airway narrows or closes as you breathe in. As a result, your breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout the night. You can wake up to 30 times or more each hour if you have sleep apnea, however you probably will not remember these short waking episodes.
It’s important to see your doctor if you experience these symptoms:
- Loud snoring as reported by your sleep partner, often times followed by silence (which can indicate your breathing has stopped)
- Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
- Excessive daytime sleepiness, due to poor sleep quality
- Morning headaches, dry mouth or sore throat
- Reliance on stimulants like coffee and energy drinks
Reasons to See Your Doctor:
- Sudden drops in oxygen levels in your blood due to interrupted breathing can cause high blood pressure and stroke.
- If you already have heart disease, sleep apnea increases your risk of sudden death.
- Persistent daytime sleepiness causes drowsiness and irritability. Children with sleep apnea are often moody and do poorly in school.
- Your sleep partner is often equally sleep deprived due to your snoring. Treatment for sleep apnea can make positive changes for the people in your entire household.
Sleep apnea is diagnosed during an in-lab sleep study. The use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine helps many people to sleep well again. Dr. Garcia said, “The technology has improved a lot, so there are many devices available to patients to find the most comfortable and best fitting CPAP mask.”
Dr. Melissa Garcia, MD, can help you determine if your snore means more. She is a family medicine provider currently accepting new patients at ThedaCare Physicians-North in Appleton. Call the clinic directly at (920) 738-4600 to make an appointment, or call ThedaCare On Call at (920) 830-6877 or go to www.thedacare.org and click on “Find a Doctor.”