Sleep Apnea: When to See an ENT Doctor
Is your snoring so loud that it disrupts your household? Excessive snoring often signals a sleep disorder called sleep apnea. If you are concerned about your snoring, you could benefit from a consultation with otolaryngologist Dr. Christina McAlpin in her Los Angeles, CA, clinic.
Characteristics of sleep apnea
This sleep disorder affects 25 million American adults, finds the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. Plus, the problem is on the rise—most likely due to escalating obesity.
Here's how it happens. As a person with sleep apnea rests, the tissues at the back of the throat—tongue, uvula, and others—relax. Then, they block the passage of air. This causes snoring and repeated episodes of apnea or breathing cessation. Sound dangerous? It is, for the person is deprived of oxygen and constantly wakes up, gasping for air
This most common kind of sleep apnea is called OSA, or obstructive sleep apnea. Some individuals have central sleep apnea which involves poor communication between the lungs and nervous system. This is less common than OSA as is mixed sleep apnea, which combines features of OSA and CSA.
Long-term, sleep apnea leads to noticeable problems with daily function, such as fatigue, depression, sleepiness, memory fog, and poor concentration. Systemic health problems develop, too—conditions such as:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Type-2 diabetes
- Cardiac arrhythmias
Do you have sleep apnea?
If you suspect you do, contact Dr. Christina McAlpin at her Los Angeles office. She can examine you and review your symptoms to make a diagnosis and treatment plan. She may recommend a monitored sleep study that measures your vital signs and breathing patterns during the night.
Treating sleep apnea
To manage sleep apnea symptoms, some people benefit from interventions such as:
- Sleeping on one side (this is called positional therapy)
- Losing weight
- Avoiding sedatives and alcohol before bedtime because they relax the muscles of the throat
- Smoking cessation
- Taking decongestants if you suffer from nasal polyps
More invasive interventions include surgery to remove large tonsils and adenoids or adding stiffeners to the roof of the mouth to support it. People who suffer from seasonal allergies may benefit from decongestants.
In addition, you and your ENT doctor may investigate oral appliance therapy. These customized acrylic appliances keep the jaw in a forward position, and thus, open the airway and keep it patent during the night.
Another popular and effective therapy for persistent sleep apnea is CPAP. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The patient wears a facial mask through which a bedside machine delivers a constant flow of air. The air keeps the back of the throat open, eliminating snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms. Some people benefit from a combination of oral appliance therapy and CPAP.
Time to see an ENT doctor?
Dr. Christina McAlpin will be happy to help you with your sleep apnea symptoms and management. Call her Los Angeles, CA, office today for more information: (213) 745-4060.