Living with sleep apnea

Living with sleep apnea

Sleep apnea occurs when a person has one or more pauses in breathing or takes shallow breaths while they’re sleeping. These episodes can last from 10 seconds to several minutes, and can occur more than 100 times in an hour.

People with untreated sleep apnea can develop cardiovascular issues in the future. Experts understand that sleep apnea makes someone more prone to high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke.

Signs and symptoms

Do you recognize any of the following signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in yourself or a loved one?

  • Unusual sleepiness during the day
  • Morning headaches
  • Problems concentrating and recalling memory
  • Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking up
  • Feeling irritable or experiencing mood swings, feeling depressed
  • Loud, uninterrupted snoring
  • Witnessed pause in breathing (by a family member)
  • Fragmented sleep

If you believe you have sleep apnea, consult your doctor to see if you require further sleep testing. There are three options: a home test, an overnight test in a sleep facility, or referral to a sleep specialist.

Treatment options

A number of treatments are available to manage your sleep apnea:

  • Lifestyle changes: Lose weight, quit smoking, avoid excessive alcohol consumption
  • Oral appliances: Used to adjust your lower jaw to open air passageways
  • Breathing devices: A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is a common treatment.
  • Surgery: Sometimes can be performed to widen air passageways

"There have been wonderful advances in the devices we use to treat sleep apnea,” says Hany Haddad, MD, sleep specialist at Community Physician Network. “The CPAP technology we use today is much quieter and the mask is better designed and easier to tolerate than in previous years."

Next steps

Community's sleep centers offer both home and overnight sleep study options. For more information, visit eCommunity.com/sleep. The first step is to consult your primary care doctor for more information and treatment options. If you need a primary care physician, please call 800-777-7775 for an appointment.