Some 18 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when the muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway and the back of the throat. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur. Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.
Treating OSA is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, OSA often causes excessive daytime sleepiness, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated it raises your risk for serious health problems. Doctors are typically unable to detect the condition during routine office visits. Also, no blood test is able to diagnose the condition. A definitive diagnosis of sleep apnea can be made only with a sleep stud. Dr. Nathanson gives patients a home sleep study kit. This testing uses a monitoring system to keep track of your breathing and usually your eye movements and brain activity during sleep. By evaluating the results, Dr. Nathanson can identify the patterns that indicate the presence of a sleep disorder.
Many individuals can be treated with a mouth guard that keeps their jaw properly positioned so their airway remains open. Dr. Nathanson can discuss these and other approaches during your consultation.
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