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Sleep Apnea Treatment

Sleep Apnea Treatment in Tuscaloosa

What Is Sleep Apnea?

One of the most common sleep disorders is sleep apnea, yet many who suffer from it remain undiagnosed. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the throat muscles relaxing during sleep blocking the airway and flow of oxygen. When this happens, a person needs to break up sleep to open their airway and breathe again. This causes sleep to be disrupted. Often the person may not be aware of the disturbances as they are brief and the person quickly returns back to sleep once their airway opens. However, these events can happen hundreds of times each night resulting in a lack of quality sleep. A telltale sign is constant snoring, daytime fatigue and not feeling rested no matter how much a person sleeps.

Sleep Apnea Diagnosis

If you complain of symptoms of daytime fatigue and if you have common risk factors of sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a sleep study. Some of the most common risk factors include being a male over 50, having high blood pressure, having a large neck circumference, or being overweight. A sleep study is a noninvasive test while you sleep, also called polysomnography. It involves a nighttime stay at our Tuscaloosa or Northport sleep lab. During the test, we will monitor and check you for signs of sleep apnea while you sleep. Our sleep medicine doctors will evaluate your breathing, sleep pattern and other vital signs.

Sleep apnea tests monitor the following:

  • Brain waves and eye movements to determine sleep cycles
  • Breathing effort, pauses in breathing and snoring
  • Heart and respiratory rate
  • Oxygen levels
  • Cardiac monitoring
  • Sleep disturbances

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Sleep apnea is treated in a variety of ways depending on what the sleep study data shows. These treatments can include changing your sleeping position, losing weight or undergoing surgery to alter your airway structure. However, one of the most common and effective treatments for many sleep apnea patients is from a device called CPAP, which is short for “Continuous Positive Airway Pressure.” This is a machine that uses air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep. It involves wearing a lightweight mask during sleep. This device, when used properly, will eliminate or greatly reduce pauses in breathing, snoring and sleep disruption. Your sleep specialist can help you determine which treatment is right for you.

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