Treating Sleep Apnea (Sleep-Disordered Breathing) in New York and New Jersey

Sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, prevent people from getting the rest they need to stay healthy and maintain a higher quality of life. Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine delivers evaluation and treatment for all types of sleep disorders, including sleep-disordered breathing. Patients throughout New York and New Jersey can rely on our knowledgeable sleep specialists for help managing sleep apnea.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Due to gravity, the tongue can fall back toward the throat during sleep, narrowing the airway and causing vibrations in the tissues at the back of the throat. This is what causes snoring. Sleep apnea is when the airway is completely obstructed, causing individuals to experience a loss of breath.

There are two variations of sleep apnea: central and obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common. The collapsing of the airway blocks airflow, which causes breathing to stop and restart frequently and creates interruptions during sleep. The more the airway collapses, the less oxygen enters the lungs and reaches vital organs.

An issue that often coincides with sleep apnea is obstructive sleep-disordered breathing. This syndrome develops because of upper airway dysfunction. It forces the body to increase respiratory effort to make up for the loss of oxygen and causes snoring.

Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

Anyone may experience sleep apnea, but certain factors put people at a higher risk for the disorder than others. These include:

  • Age: The risk for sleep apnea increases with age.
  • Sex: Sleep apnea is often more serious and appears at a younger age in men.
  • Genetics and family history: Genetics may predispose patients to features and conditions that increase the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Physical features: A thick neck and large tonsils can narrow the upper airway. Men with necks larger than 17 inches and women with necks larger than 16 inches may face a greater risk.
  • Weight: Obesity can increase the number of fat deposits in the neck, which can obstruct the upper airway.
  • Lifestyle habits: Smoking and drinking alcohol can increase the risk of sleep apnea.
  • Other conditions: A higher risk for sleep apnea is associated with high blood pressure, heart or kidney failure, and certain endocrine disorders.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Obstruction of the airways can make it difficult for patients to stay asleep as they may wake up suddenly and gasp for air throughout the night. These occurrences can lead to other symptoms during the day, including:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Trouble focusing on tasks
  • Dry mouth
  • Sexual dysfunction

Another symptom of sleep apnea is snoring, which a partner will notice. In children, sleep apnea may coincide with increased bedwetting, trouble listening in school, and worsening of conditions like asthma. Parents should schedule an appointment with a pediatric sleep specialist so their child can be evaluated.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

At Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine, a sleep apnea diagnosis begins with an evaluation by board-certified sleep physicians or nurse practitioners thoroughly trained in sleep medicine. These providers ask patients about their symptoms and family history to identify possible risk factors and then order blood tests and ultrasounds to rule out other conditions.

As with insomnia, a sleep study can help diagnose sleep apnea. Physicians use the results to determine the specific type of sleep apnea the patient has and its severity. A sleep diary is another diagnostic method that may help. Patients log their sleeping habits and how tired they feel during the day for a period and share their results with the sleep specialist.

CPAP Therapy to Treat Sleep Apnea

Without proper treatment, sleep apnea can contribute to other health issues, such as diabetes and depression. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment sooner rather than later. Treatment options will depend on the patient’s particular case of sleep apnea.

One of the most viable treatment options is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. If a sleep study shows repeated apneic periods lasting 10 seconds or longer, a CPAP machine may be recommended. These periods are measured using the AHI (apnea-hypopnea index). A higher value means a more severe case of sleep apnea.

With CPAP therapy, a prescribed amount of pressurized air is sent to the airway to prevent narrowing during sleep. The amount is based on the sleep specialist’s interpretation of titration from the sleep study.

Due to a collaborative effort by the patient’s sleep specialist, the sleep center, and the medical equipment company (DME), patients tend to do well with CPAP therapy. Challenges may occur but can be overcome with the commitment of the team at Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine and open communication between sleep specialists and their patients.

Other Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Sometimes, patients may have issues with using a CPAP machine or a provider will determine that CPAP therapy isn’t necessary. In those cases, there are a few other treatment options available. They include:

  • Weight management strategy
  • Oral appliances, such as mouth guards, tongue-retaining devices, and mandibular advancement devices, for mild to moderate and severe cases where CPAP therapy is not possible
  • Referral to an ENT specialist for surgical tissue reduction of the throat

Seek Treatment for Sleep Apnea at Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine

For personalized care of sleep disorders in New York and New Jersey, choose Northeast Insomnia and Sleep Medicine. Led by Dr. Dosik Kim, M.D., F.C.C.P., our team of sleep specialists will work diligently to deliver the highest standard of clinical care by educating patients on their conditions and putting them at ease in a comfortable, relaxing environment for treatment. To get started, complete our new patient forms or contact us to learn more about sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing.

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