Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that results in breathing interruptions while sleeping. The most common sleep disorder of this nature is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is often characterized by loud snoring, abrupt waking, morning headaches, and sometimes mood changes. If you’re experiencing symptoms like this, you’ll likely be referred to a sleep apnea specialist in Mission Viejo to receive a thorough evaluation and a personalized treatment plan.
Making a Diagnosis
The first reason to visit a sleep apnea specialist in Mission Viejo is because it’s not easy to tell if your symptoms are related to sleep apnea or associated with another abnormality or condition. Hypothyroid disease, for instance, sometimes contributes to sleep apnea. A specialist can perform a thorough evaluation, a process that usually begins with a review of your medical history and a discussion of your symptoms. Specific testing that’s recommended may include:
- A full-night sleep study: A type of sleep study done overnight that involves the use of equipment to monitor breathing patterns, body movements, and other functions.
- A split-night sleep study: Monitoring is done for half the night; but if you wake up, continuous positive airway pressure may be administered for the other half of the night.
- Home sleep apnea testing: A home-based version of a sleep monitoring test that also tracks breathing patterns, airflow, and snoring intensity.
Suggesting Lifestyle AdjustmentsIf your symptoms are mild or moderate, a sleep apnea specialist in Mission Viejo may suggest a treatment plan that’s largely based on lifestyle adjustments. Along with losing weight if you are overweight, recommendations typically include getting regular exercise, quitting smoking if you are a regular smoker, and reducing alcohol consumption. It can also be beneficial to:
- Avoid taking sleeping pills and other sedatives
- Use decongestants or allergy medications if you have nasal congestion or allergies that could be worsening your symptoms
- Not sleep on your back
Exploring Additional Treatments
With obstructive sleep apnea, a sleep apnea specialist in Mission Viejo may suggest continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) as a symptom management option. A CPAP machine delivers air pressure in a way that reduces respiratory issues while sleeping. Another option is a specially designed oral device that helps keep the throat open. Related dental appliances are often needed with oral devices. Other treatments that may be recommended by a sleep apnea specialist include:
- Tissue removal
- Implantation of an impulse generator to stimulate nerves affecting tongue movements
- Jaw repositioning
- Soft palate implants
- Creation of a surgical opening in the neck (tracheostomy) if sleep apnea is considered life-threatening
A sleep apnea specialist in Mission Viejo can also provide treatment if you have other forms of this sleep disorder. One of these is central sleep apnea (CSA), which is related to problems with the transmission of brain signals. Many of the same treatments or lifestyle changes commonly recommended for OSA tend to also work well for CSA sufferers. Regardless of what type of sleep apnea you may have, early treatment and symptom management could improve your quality of life.