DO YOU JUST SNORE, OR IS IT SLEEP APNEA?
Sleep study can determine course of action
Does your bed partner elbow you during the night to wake you up and tell you to turn over? Do you wake up after eight hours of sleep feeling as tired as when you went to bed? Is it just snoring that is your problem, or is your snoring so bad that you quit breathing? I’m asked this question in my ear, nose and throat practice almost every day.
The symptoms of sleep apnea, noted by many non-snoring bed partners, include the following: loud and frequent snoring, periods of no breathing, and choking or gasping sounds repeatedly throughout the night.
Twenty-five million people are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea every year. How many of you out there who snore have the symptoms but may not be diagnosed with OSA? The symptoms that patients notice are daytime sleepiness, fatigue and unrefreshing sleep. Others may have morning headaches.
The results of sleep apnea include high blood pressure, heart irregularities, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, chronic headache, congestive heart failure and depression. So, when I’m asked a question, “Is it just snoring, or is it sleep apnea?” this is my usual response. There is this spectrum of snoring. On one end of the spectrum, you have a social problem in bed at night with your snoring. On the other end, you have a patient who snores so badly that they have a medical problem: OSA.
So how in the world do you know where you stand in that spectrum of snoring patients? You get a sleep study. I order mine at Well Necessities on Line Avenue, as I have for over 30 years. While it sounds scary, it is not. It’s a friendly environment. Your blood pressure, pulse, EKG and oxygen saturation are measured while you sleep. Also measured are airflow and brain activity and leg jerks or movement. So, what now? If you have apnea, that’s where I come in.
My job as an ear, nose and throat specialist is to determine the level, or levels, and/ or areas where the obstruction to breathing occurs. It can be at one or all of three levels.
It can be in the nasal cavity or the oral cavity, or deeper in the throat. Anything that stops up the nose creates obstructed breathing at this level. For instance, allergies, polyps, deviations in the anatomy and swelling from sinus infection can all be the culprit. In the oral cavity, large tonsils and large tongue, long palate and long uvula are the usual offenders. Below the oral cavity is where the tongue hooks up with the throat. This is the overweight level. I then must determine which level(s) of obstruction each patient has.
When the sleep study shows sleep apnea, something must be done! Every patient has two options. One is to use a form of nasal CPAP, which stands for controlled positive air pressure. This treatment blows air through the nose, or nose and mouth, to keep the tissues from collapsing, thereby preventing the patient from having apnea periods. The second is to remove the obstruction or fix the obstruction surgically. While surgical results are usually effective, CPAP is 100 percent. When I operate on this type of patient, it’s after they have failed at the use of the CPAP.
Well Necessities obtains the equipment for you and will help you with any fitting or other issues you may have. I personally have friends that swore that they would never be able to wear the CPAP mask, but now swear by it. Wherever they travel, their CPAP equipment travels with them.
So, if you think you may have it, you must do something. See me. See your doctor. See someone who can order you a sleep study. It’s not scary. It’s not painful, and it may save your life. Get tested for OSA! Both you and your family will be glad you did.
Dr. J. William Parker, Jr., is an ear, nose & throat / facial plastic and reconstructive surgery physician at Highland Clinic. He treats both children and adults and accepts most insurance plans. Dr. Parker specializes in disease and surgery in the area of the face, throat, sinuses and neck, with a specialty in chronic sinus patients. He now offers a new service known as Balloon Sinus Dilation. He is accepting new patients and can be reached at (318) 798-4565, located at 1455 East Bert Kouns Industrial Loop, Suite 207, Shreveport, LA 71105. Visit http://www.parkersinuscenter.com for more information.