Dr. Richard Nass, sinus, ear, nose, and throat specialist in Manhattan discusses snoring and sleep apnea
Irregularities of the nose, mouth, throat, and larynx can cause a blockage in your upper airway during sleep. This causes irregular flow of air to the rest of your body. Frequently these blockages will be located in several locations. But regardless of the location, when your airway is blocked, the result can be snoring, sleep disorders, and sleep apnea.
Your snoring could be just an isolated symptom and have no practical significance, but it can also affect romantic relationships or other living situations such as dorm or roommates. Snorers and the people with whom they live should discuss whether or not intervention is necessary.
But what if it’s not just snoring?
Snoring also can be a symptom of a more serious sleep problem: sleep apnea.
Warning signs that your snoring may be something more serious include daytime fatigue, morning headaches, restless sleep, waking up frequently, gasping for air, or seeming to hold your breath during sleep. You may notice some of these yourself, or your bedroom partner may bring them to your attention. But failure to address these symptoms can be dangerous. It can impair your ability to drive or work with machinery. It can also have a negative impact on your efficiency at work and in your personal life. Left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and seizures.
How will I know if I have sleep apnea?
When you come to our office, Dr. Richard Nass will take a detailed medical history and perform a complete head and neck examination to see if your airways are blocked. If you do have obstructions, Dr. Nass will determine their severity and order a sleep study to get the most accurate and objective picture of the problem. This will also help determine the best type of therapy for your condition.
The sleep study is done overnight, usually in your own home. Your vital signs, heart function (EKG), blood oxygen levels, number and length of abnormal breathing episodes (hypopneas and apneas), snoring, and abnormal leg movements will be constantly monitored while you sleep. Occasionally, if the results are inconclusive, you may need to repeat the procedure in a sleep lab.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Once a diagnosis is conclusive and the severity of the problem and abnormalities are determined, we can discuss the treatment plan that is best for you. Your treatment plan might include weight loss, positioning during sleep, dental appliances, breathing machines (C-PAP), or surgery. The type of treatment will depend entirely on the specific nature of your sleep apnea.