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Sleep apnea
     
           
   

Sleep apnea is a period of not breathing during sleep. There are three types, as discussed below. Any type of sleep apnea is a serious condition requiring medical consultation and potential treatment from a sleep disorders physician. This is the most common type of sleep disorder treated by Doctors Bird and Thornton.
 

 



Sleep apnea is very common. We offer two online tests that can help determine if you have some of the symptoms of sleep apnea. Check out our Snore Score and Epworth Sleepiness Scale pages.

 
   

Listed below are some of the symptoms and factors that the doctors use to determine if a person has sleep apnea. If you have one or more of these, you should discuss with your physician and consider making an appointment for sleep medicine evaluation.

Treatment can not only improve your quality of life, it could also save your life, or those of others (such as when drowsy drivers cause serious accidents).

Warning symptoms of sleep apnea

  • Heavy snoring
  • Noticing, or being told by a sleep partner, that you stop breathing during the night
  • Waking up with a choking, gasping feeling
  • Waking up feeling as if you haven't slept
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness or exhaustion
  • High score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale
  • Nodding off or falling asleep at inappropriate times, such as on the job or while driving
  • Diminished quality of life brought on by chronic sleep deprivation
  • Family history of sleep apnea

Other factors and symptoms
often seen in sleep apnea patients

 

   
   
  • Being overweight. The extra weight makes it harder for your body to get a good night's sleep.
  • Having a large neck, 17" or more in men, 16" or more in women.
  • High blood pressure. This is prevalent in persons with Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
  • Depression
  • Decreased memory
  • Smoking (causes swelling of upper airway)
  • Using alcohol or sedative drugs
  • Large tonsils and adenoids. This is the main cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in children.
  • Receding chin

 

  Can lack of sleep make you gain weight?

There are indications that lack of sleep may actually cause weight gain. Treating the underlying sleep problem can reduce the overeating and weight gain.

 
  Sleep apnea risks      
           
   

Untreated sleep apnea can be extremely serious and cannot be ignored. If left untreated, sleep apnea will increase your risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Brain attack (stroke)
  • Sleep-deprivation accidents on the job or roads
  • Decreased quality of life
  • Causing sleep problems for your partner (due to loudness of snoring)

 

     
  Sleep apnea diagnosis      
           
   

The primary tool is the overnight sleep study during which time breathing, oxygen concentration and quality of sleep are monitored. You may be referred for a sleep study directly by your physician. Or, you or your physician might prefer a sleep medicine consultation. (If you have no physician, a consultation is required because we are an AASM-accredited sleep center.)

 

 

A person with Obstructive Sleep Apnea has a blocked airway during breathing. A CPAP mask gently forces air in, keeping the airway free throughout the night.

 
  Treatments for sleep apnea    
         
   

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a nasal mask called CPAP, for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. (It is pronounced "see-pap".) This provides a constant flow of air, under gentle pressure, that keeps the airway open. The cost of the CPAP device is usually covered by most insurance plans.

Sleep apnea can also be improved by making lifestyle improvements such as weight loss, exercise, increased hours of sleep, and avoiding alcohol, sedatives and smoking.

In a few cases, surgery may be necessary.

Sleep specialists such as Doctors Bird and Thornton will work closely with you. They want to ensure the most appropriate and effective treatment for your particular medical situation.
 

   
         


     
  The three types of sleep apnea      
           
   
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea is by far the most common type of sleep apnea. It is caused by collapse of the throat related to reduced muscle tone occurring during sleep. OSA may be aggrevated by a large tongue, small airway, large tonsils, recessed chin and obesity.
     
  • Central Sleep Apnea is cessation of breathing effort occurring when the brain stops sending signals to the muscles of breathing (intercostal chest and diaphragm). Heart and brain disease may predispose to this type of apnea.
     
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea is a combination of Obstructive and Central types. Because both factors are involved, treatment is more complex.

All three of these types are serious, and should be fully diagnosed and treated by a certified sleep specialist.
 

     
           
           
   

 
2006-2017, Bird & Thornton, P.A. All rights reserved.

Solving sleep problems, snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia and other sleeping issues in Central Florida. With six sleep centers at Florida Hospital locations: Orlando Main Campus, East Orlando, Altamonte Springs, Celebration, Winter Park and Apopka

Appointments: (407) 303-1558 or use our Appointment Form

NOTE: Sleep health information discussed at this website is for educational purposes. Each individual is different and may have varying symptoms, diagnosis and treatments. If you are having sleep health problems, obtain professional medical advice.