Sleep Apnea Treatment in Denver, CO
Tired all day? Sleep apnea can affect every aspect of daily life, from your health to your happiness. Get help from our sleep and snoring experts, so you can start sleeping well and waking up refreshed.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a disorder that results from blocked airways causing a lack of oxygen during sleep. When the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen, it sends a signal to wake up so it can regulate breathing once again. In severe cases, these episodes can occur more than seven times an hour and last up to 10 seconds each. This vicious cycle continues all night, with sleep apnea patients experiencing anywhere from 30 to 300 events per evening. The episodes also reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
- Chronic exhaustion
- Insomnia or trouble sleeping
- Falling asleep throughout the day
- Morning headaches
- Snoring or loud breathing
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Waking up with a choking or gasping sensation
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short term memory issues
- Reduced sex drive
- Weight gain
- Paused breathing while sleeping (either waking you up or as witnessed by another)
Sleep Apnea Side Effects
When someone suffers from sleep apnea, others will often hear loud breathing or snoring frequently interrupted by moments of complete air blockage. If untreated, side effects of sleep apnea can include:
- Heart attack
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- High blood pressure
- Gastric reflux
- Heart failure
What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type of sleep apnea. An estimated 180 million people suffer from this sleep disorder and only about a quarter of them are ever properly diagnosed.
When we sleep, our throat tissue naturally relaxes, but for those with sleep apnea, the airways become blocked by this tissue so air can’t travel easily to the lungs. The muscles in your diaphragm and chest have to work harder than they should to pull in enough oxygen for a healthy sleep, which also can cause irregular heart rhythms and reduce oxygen flow to vital organs. The symptoms and potential side effects are the same as other types of sleep apnea, but obstructive sleep apnea is unique because it is caused specifically by relaxed throat tissue blocking the airways.
What Causes Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can happen to almost anyone, and is often developed later in life, making it tricky to predict. However, there are certain factors that may increase a person’s likelihood of experiencing sleep apnea. Some factors are genetic and beyond our control, but others are lifestyle habits that can be addressed to reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
Risk factors that can’t be controlled:
- Gender – Males are much more likely to develop sleep apnea than women
- Age – Most often, sleep apnea is seen in patients over the age of 30
- Genetics – If your family has a history of sleep apnea, this increases your risk
- Menopause – Women are more likely to develop sleep apnea after going through menopause
- Neck circumference – Patients with wider necks or who naturally have extra tissue in the neck or throat are at a higher risk for sleep apnea
Risk factors that can be minimized through lifestyle change:
- Obesity – This is one of the most common causes of sleep apnea, and losing weight can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disorder
- Drinking – Consuming excessive alcohol may increase your risk of sleep apnea
- Medications – Taking certain medications, such as sedatives or sleeping pills, can increase your risk
- Smoking – Nicotine relaxes your throat muscles, which means it’s more likely that the muscles will collapse and block your airway while you sleep
How Do I Find Out If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Getting an accurate sleep apnea diagnosis can sometimes be difficult. Some patients notice they have difficulty sleeping. Other patients are asleep when they experience the worst symptoms, so they often suffer for years without realizing the severity of their sleep apnea. By working with an expert to properly diagnose and treat sleep apnea, many of these people have finally been able to get restful sleep.
Sleep Apnea Testing
Our experts can speculate about sleep apnea based on a patient’s described symptoms, but a sleep study is the best way to accurately diagnose this condition. A sleep apnea test requires professional equipment, but can be done at home in your own bed. You’ll receive the instruction and equipment to complete your sleep study at home, then meet with one of our expert doctors, in-person or virtually, to review the results and discuss treatment options.
- Meet with a doctor to discuss your symptoms and lifestyle
- Receive your sleep test equipment along with instructions from your doctor on how to set up the test
- Sleep with the testing machine connected as instructed for one full sleep cycle (one night)
- Return the sleep test with the new data in person or by mail
- Your doctor will schedule a follow up appointment to review your results and talk through your options for treatment and / or lifestyle change
Schedule an appointment now to meet with an expert and start the process.
– What Our Patients Say –
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The AENT experts will recommend a treatment depending on the severity, root cause and contributing risk factors in your unique situation. Treatments can range from small lifestyle changes to breathing appliances to surgery. Each person should evaluate their options completely with a professional to decide which is the best option for your health.
Making changes to your lifestyle which reduce certain risk factors can ultimately help reduce or even eliminate sleep apnea. Weight loss is often one of the most effective ways to decrease snoring and sleep apnea, since this can reduce the amount of pressure and excess tissue around the airways. Eliminating behaviors which further relax the muscles in the throat can also help improve breathing during sleep. Smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, and taking sedative medications like sleeping pills can all make the condition worse, so changing these habits can also help treat sleep apnea.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP)
A CPAP machine increases air pressure in the nose and throat to help you breathe more easily. It is often accompanied by accessories like masks, chin straps, head gear, humidifiers, tubes, and even nasal pillow systems to facilitate the process. As you sleep, your head and nose are connected to the machine, so your airways are forced to stay open. Many people have found that CPAP helps them breathe better.
One approach to reducing sleep apnea involves a customized mouth guard which keeps the jaw in a position that allows better airflow. These oral positioners can be worn while sleeping to ensure breathing through the mouth, which in turn reduces snoring and lets the wearer sleep soundly. Oral appliances as a treatment often don’t resolve issues of dry mouth and sore throat.
By shrinking or removing extra tissue in the upper airways, surgery can be an effective long-term solution to sleep apnea. This type of surgery is performed with radiofrequency or a small laser, and typically does not involve a long recovery period. Surgery can also be performed to remove nasal polyps, reduce turbinate size, and straighten a deviated septum if any of these common issues are contributing to sleep apnea disorder.
The experts at AENT can help you decide which of these treatment options is right for you. Book an appointment with a doctor to start your journey back to better sleep.
Sleep Soundly Thanks to Denver’s Sleep Apnea Specialists
At Advanced ENT and Allergy, we have decades of experience improving the lives of patients through the diagnosis and treatment of breathing issues, including sleep apnea. Get help from the experts and get back to a good night’s sleep.