By Dr. Keri Brown, CMH-OHSU Health Pulmonology Clinic
Snoring is a common complaint among couples. But often, it’s more than just noise.
Snoring and daytime sleepiness are common signs of a potentially dangerous condition called sleep apnea.
The most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It causes someone to stop breathing as much as 30 times or more during sleep. These pauses momentarily wake a person up, although they may not remember being awake.
OSA is caused by the collapse of the airway in the back of the nose, mouth and throat during sleep. The vibration of the relaxed airway triggers the snoring. When the airway closes completely, it cuts off oxygen to the lungs. That’s what wakes someone up, gasping for air: Oxygen can’t get to the lungs and brain, and the body becomes oxygen-deprived. This puts a big strain on the heart.
OSA increases the risk of heart failure, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), type 2 diabetes and stroke.
Could I have OSA?
Loud snoring is the most obvious hallmark of OSA. But if you live alone, you may not have had anyone tell you that you snore.
Other signs and symptoms you might have OSA include:
How is OSA treated?
If you suspect that you may have OSA, talk with your doctor. The condition can be diagnosed by a sleep study or with an at-home sleep apnea test. CMH’s new Home Sleep Testing Service offers an easy, cost-effective way to test for OSA from the comfort of your own bed.
OSA can be treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device, which involves wearing a mask while sleeping that keeps air pressure flowing in your airways so they don’t close down. Research has shown that people who are treated for OSA have a lower risk of early death.
It’s important to not shrug off OSA as just a snoring problem. Treatment is vital to your heart — and your overall good health. Call 503-338-7513 to ask about home sleep testing.
Media Contact: Nancee Long, 503-338-4504
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