Health Hub: Sleep Apnea
Is your snoring more than annoying? It might indicate a serious problem.
Do you feel tired and just “unrested” even after what seemed like a good night’s sleep? Have you been told you snore very loudly and toss and turn all night? Do you find that you wake up with a dry, sore throat or a headache? Or that you feel yourself nodding off during daytime hours? You could have a very common – but very serious –sleep disorder called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing stops repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain may not get enough oxygen and definitely never gets enough rest. Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of apnea, is caused by the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapsing during sleep, which blocks the airway and can cause loud snoring.
Sleep is Essential to Health
Dr. Cheryl Oh, a Florida Hospital Medical Group sleep medicine specialist and primary care physician in Altamonte Springs, reminds her patients that without proper sleep, no matter what kind of diet or exercise they do, they will not achieve their best health. “Sleep apnea has been related to diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and sudden death,” Dr. Oh says. “If your doctor is having difficulty controlling your blood pressure, sugar, or weight, there’s a good possibility sleep apnea may be the culprit.” If left untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to a growing number of health problems, including stroke, heart attacks and severe depression, can result in road accidents, and may be responsible for poor performance at work and school.
Snoring is No Joke
“People laugh off snoring like it’s something all men do, but we know now that it happens to both men and women,” says Dr. Oh. “Doctors don’t always ask patients how they’re sleeping or if they snore, but if you or someone you know feels chronically tired or run down, you should discuss the possibility of sleep apnea with your physician and ask to be screened immediately.”
Are You at Risk for Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect anyone at any age or weight, even children. Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Being overweight
- Being male (though women are also diagnosed with sleep apnea)
- Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men/16 inches or greater in women)
- Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
- Having a family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems
Cheryl Oh, MD is a board-certified sleep medicine and family medicine physician in Altamonte Springs providing treatment of sleep disorders, including insomnia and sleep apnea, in addition to primary care services. Learn more at FHMedicalGroup.com
Florida Hospital Medical Group is the Orlando area’s most comprehensive multi-specialty medical group practice with more than 425 board-certified physicians and surgeons in more than 40 medical specialties.