How to Identify and Treat Sleep Apnea
WALNUT CREEK — Although it’s often mistaken for mere snoring, sleep apnea is a serious condition that causes the sufferer to literally stop breathing during sleep—potentially hundreds of times in a single night. In addition to daytime sleepiness (which can affect work performance and increase the likelihood of a car accident), it can cause a variety of health problems, including elevated blood pressure, depression, and the risk of diabetes and stroke.
There are several factors that increase your susceptibility to sleep apnea, including physical attributes and personal habits. One common contributing factor is your body weight, although it’s primarily the size of your neck that matters. Males whose neck circumference is more than 17 inches and females whose neck circumference is more than 16 inches are particularly at risk. Other factors that increase your predisposition to sleep apnea are a deviated septum, chronic nasal issues or sinusitis, and smoking.
If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea by a physician, you typically have three treatments to choose from. The first is the use of a CPAP, which is a mask attached to a machine that assists breathing during sleep. Another option is an oral appliance that brings your jaw forward to open up your airway while you sleep. The third option is to have surgery to correct the physical attributes that contribute to your condition.
Considering the health risks involved, if you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, you should consult a medical or dental professional who can help you find a treatment that best fits your needs.