It’s estimated that one in 15 adults in the United States have obstructive sleep apnea. That equals 18 million people, and about 80% of those people are undiagnosed. If your partner has been complaining about your snoring, if you feel fatigued or often wake up with a dry mouth or a sore throat, you could be one of the undiagnosed 80% that suffer from sleep apnea..
Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops and starts while you sleep. It can be a potentially dangerous disorder that can lead to issues such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart problems if left untreated.
If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, you should first visit your doctor for a diagnosis. There are some potential risk factors that increase your risk of sleep apnea including weight and age which should also be addressed with your doctor.
Upon diagnosis, you may need to undergo a sleep study to further diagnose your disorder and determine its severity. Many doctors will prescribe a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. This is the most popular and reliable way to treat sleep apnea. A CPAP machine uses a specialized mask to prevent apnea and snoring by keeping your airways open during sleep.
Along with a CPAP machine, other self-care techniques can be used to treat your sleep apnea, including:
- Weightloss: If you are overweight or obese, your doctor may recommend losing a little weight to alleviate constriction of the airways.
- Avoiding Alcohol and Sleeping Pills: Alcohol and certain medicines can worsen sleep apnea and its side effects.
- Sleeping on Your Side or Abdomen: Sleeping on your back can worsen sleep apnea by causing your tongue and soft palate to rest against the back of your throat and block the airway. Sleeping on your side or abdomen can relieve this blockage and cause a more restful sleep.
- Keep Your Nasal Passages Open While Sleeping: Using nasal sprays and decongestants can assist in keeping your nasal passages open at night.
If sleep apnea is left untreated, it can be dangerous to your health and put you at a higher risk for a number of health issues. If you suspect you have sleep apnea or you are experiencing snoring fatigue, drowsiness, headaches or other symptoms, contact us for an appointment with a sleep apnea specialist to learn more about treatment options.