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What is Sleep Apnea? – Mangum, OK

What to Look Out For & How It Can Be Treated

Sleep apnea is a very sneaky disorder. You go to bed, sleep like you normally do, but when you wake up, you feel like you haven’t slept at all. This leads many patients to simply power through the exhaustion, often with the help of caffeine. This is a problem more than 25 million Americans are dealing with right now, and that number is expected to only increase as the years go by. Of course, this leads to questions like, “ What is sleep apnea? What causes it? What are its symptoms? Can it be treated?”

At EZ Sleep Solutions, Dr. Lively and our team are able to not only answer these questions for our patients but provide treatment as well so they can turn their dreary days into ones filled with energy and optimism. To start understanding sleep apnea little more so you can finally overcome it, read on below.

Sleep Apnea Basics

Frustrated woman with head in hands

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person experiences brief lapses in breathing while they sleep, usually for less than 10 seconds. This can happen up to 100 times an hour, repeatedly interrupting the sleep cycle so someone isn’t able to get the regenerative sleep they need to function normally the next day.

When the breath is cut off, a few things instantly happen. Firstly, the body panics, which causes blood pressure to skyrocket. This change can remain even after breathing has been restored and a person is awake, drastically increasing their risk for things like heart attack and stroke. Then, the body partially wakes up in order to restore normal respiration. Most people have little to no memory of their apnea episodes in the morning, leaving them to wonder why they feel so tired all the time.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Snoring man in bed

There are two main types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is much more common, and it occurs when the soft tissues in the mouth and throat over-relax as a person sleeps and blocks their airway. Things like having large tonsils or adenoids, a constantly stuffy nose, and a thick neck can make someone more likely to develop OSA. Obesity is also one of the leading preventable causes of OSA because excessive fatty tissue around the throat can make it narrower and easier to close during sleep.

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Central sleep apnea (CSA), on the other hand, is a neurological issue in which the brain literally doesn’t send the body the signal to breathe. This can be due to a number of other health conditions, such as heart and kidney failure, stroke, or if a person is on certain drugs, particularly opiates.

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Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Frustrated woman holding her head

People who are suffering from sleep apnea will typically experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent daytime exhaustion
  • Loud snoring every night
  • Waking up gasping or feeling out of breath
  • Morning headaches and sore throats
  • Depression/mood swings
  • Weight gain/trouble losing weight
  • Hypertension
  • Diminished focus/memory
  • Sexual dysfunction

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How Sleep Apnea Can be Treated

Man with CPAP mask

If someone is worried that they may have sleep apnea, they should immediately consult a doctor. People in Mangum are encouraged to fill out our STOP-BANG Assessment so our team can evaluate their risk for the condition. If it is likely that someone has sleep apnea based on their assessment, we will have them take an at-home sleep test, which will monitor their breathing while they sleep. A sleep doctor will go over the results from the test in order to make a diagnosis.

If it turns out that a patient does indeed have sleep apnea, then it’s a question of how it will be treated. CPAP therapy, in which a patient literally wears a mask connected to an air pump, is the most popular treatment prescribed today, but many patients find it extremely uncomfortable due to the machine’s bulk and noise. This is where Dr. Lively can help.

For patients with OSA or who are CPAP intolerant, he can provide them with a solution called oral appliance therapy, in which a patient simply wears a small mouthguard to bed that’s designed to keep the airway open. Many patients find this approach much more comfortable and easier to use, and you can learn more about it on our page here.

Snoring is More than Just Annoying

Woman covering ears next to sleeping mask

In addition to exhaustion, consistently snoring every night is one of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea. While many people simply write it off as a quirk of their friend, partner, or spouse, it shouldn’t be ignored completely. Just because someone snores doesn’t automatically mean they have sleep apnea, but it does indicate that they are not sleeping as well as they could, plus they are also more likely to develop sleep apnea in the future. Fortunately, it’s possible to stop snoring using an oral appliance, which can improve the sleep quality of both a patient as well as anyone who sleeps around them.

Is Sleep Apnea Therapy Covered By Insurance?

Form with sleep apnea checked

Most medical insurance plans will provide coverage for someone in need of sleep apnea therapy, and that’s true whether they get a CPAP machine or oral appliance. For patients here at EZ Sleep Solutions, our team is more than happy to help them negotiate the ins and outs of their medical insurance plan so they are easily able to afford their appliance.

Start Improving Your Sleep Today

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Sleep apnea can have serious consequences for both your short and long-term health, but effective treatment is easily available here in Mangum. To learn more about the disorder and how you can overcome it with EZ Sleep Solutions, contact us today.

Sleep Apnea FAQs

A woman sleeping after sleep apnea treatment in Mangum

Whether you think that you or a family member is suffering from sleep apnea and you don’t know what to do or you have concerns about how the treatment process works, Dr. Lively and his team want to give you an easy sleep solution you can rely on. Our office is happy to answer any questions you may have about sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatment in Mangum. With that said, the most common questions we get can be found below for your convenience.

Who is at risk of developing sleep apnea?

While people of all ages are capable of developing sleep disorders like sleep apnea, there are certain risk factors worth keeping in mind. For example, those who are obese or have a thick neck circumference can have a restricted airway, making breathing more difficult. However, specific habits can increase your risk as well, including smoking, drinking alcohol, and using sedatives or tranquilizers, both of which can relax the muscles in the throat.

Other risk factors for sleep apnea include:

  • Having a naturally narrowed airway
  • Being male
  • Being older (typically over the age of 40)
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Nasal congestion
  • Certain medical conditions (including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, etc.)

What happens if I don’t get sleep apnea treatment?

While poor sleep is the clearest consequence for untreated sleep apnea, it is far from the only problem you can expect when it goes untreated. Not only are you at higher risk of anxiety, tiredness, and low productivity, but you’re actually more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Those with untreated sleep apnea also may experience heart attacks and strokes. Completing treatment is about so much more than simply getting a better night’s sleep; it’s about maintaining your overall health and quality of life.

Can I treat sleep apnea on my own?

While maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea by keeping the airway clear, it won’t necessarily remove your sleep apnea symptoms. You should also assume that your symptoms won’t go away on their own. If you’ve been recently diagnosed with sleep apnea, only a professional like Dr. Lively can effectively pinpoint the cause and treat it with personalized care. With that said, there are ways to reduce your symptoms on top of completing treatment, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoiding alcohol consumption near bedtime
  • Quitting the use of all tobacco products

How long does treatment take to work?

The length of treatment largely varies depending on the severity of your sleep apnea. However, many people note an improvement in their sleep quality even after just a few nights of using their oral appliance. Of course, you should let our office know about your symptoms and whether or not you’re noticing improvements directly so we can make changes to your treatment plan if needed.