Sleep Apnea

Do you regularly wake up during the course of the night? Maybe your significant other regularly complains about your snoring habits? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you may have sleep apnea. At Kingwood Pulmonary, PA in Kingwood, Texas, expert pulmonologist Akinyinka Ajelabi, MD, and the team regularly work with men and women to diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

Questions & Answers

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop and start breathing multiple times while you sleep. Left unmanaged, sleep apnea significantly increases your risk of more serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

If you snore loudly or regularly wake up in the morning feeling tired or unrested, you may have sleep apnea. If you think you might have sleep apnea, make an appointment at Kingwood Pulmonary, PA. The sooner you receive treatment, the less likely it is to interfere with your health and quality of life.

Are there different types of sleep apnea?

At Kingwood Pulmonary, PA, the team treats all three types of sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea.

OSA occurs when the soft tissues at the back of your throat relax during sleep, blocking your respiratory tract and preventing airflow.

Central sleep apnea happens when your brain fails to send nerve signals to your respiratory system. Complex sleep apnea is when you have OSA and central sleep apnea. Only a sleep specialist can determine the type of sleep apnea you have.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea are very similar and often mimic one another. Telltale signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Irritability

If you have sleep apnea, you might also notice that you have trouble focusing or paying attention at work or school. You might also experience daytime grogginess or exhaustion throughout the day.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

To diagnose sleep apnea, your provider reviews your medical history, asks you questions about your symptoms, and conducts a physical exam. If these measures don’t provide enough information, they might also recommend participating in an overnight sleep study.

An overnight sleep study is a type of evaluation performed at a local sleep center. During an overnight sleep study, your provider monitors your heart rate, breathing, and other bodily functions while you sleep.

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, they might refer you to an ear, nose, and throat specialist to rule out breathing problems caused by a blockage in your nose or throat. If they suspect you have central sleep apnea, they might refer you to a cardiologist.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Whenever possible, the team uses conservative measures of care, such as lifestyle changes, to ease the symptoms of sleep apnea.

For example, if you have a mild case of sleep apnea, they might recommend losing weight or quitting smoking. Sometimes, these measures are enough to prevent symptoms and improve your quality of sleep.

For moderate to severe sleep apnea, your provider might prescribe treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a custom oral appliance. Sleep apnea appliances push your lower jaw slightly forward, opening up your airways.