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CPAP Machine

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is classified as when breathing starts and stops repeatedly during the night. It is prevalent in an estimated 18 million Americans, and while it is treatable, the sleep apnea can be dangerous if it goes ignored. Here are some common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea and their treatment options.


Excessive snoring

Most Americans snore at one time or the other, whether it is because they are suffering from a cold or have allergies. However, loud excessive snoring, which often sounds like choking or gasping, could signify the patient is suffering from obstructive sleep apnea.

Pauses in breathing

These pauses normally last for 30 seconds or more, and are typically noticed when a person stops snoring. For sleep apnea sufferers, these can happen every minute or so.

Abrupt awakenings

Because the brain is deprived of oxygen when the person doesn't breathe, it sends signals to wake up the person so breathing can start again. These awakenings are typically accompanied by shortness of breath and the person not remembering they woke up multiple times during the night.

Waking up not feeling too well

Sleep apnea can cause headaches, dry mouth, and sore throats. The person may also have attention problems during the day and experience irritability.

When should you contact a doctor?

Doctors recommend having a sleep test if you experience one or more of the previous symptoms. Then they will typically send you for a sleep test or have you take a home test for sleep apnea to determine how often your breathing pauses.

Treatment options

CPAP machine

The most common treatment option is the CPAP machine, which gives a consistent stream of air up your nose to keep the airways open. They connect via a CPAP mask that is strapped under your nose and must be slept with consistently.

Oral appliances

For those who have less aggressive sleep apnea and find that they cannot cope with the CPAP machine, their doctor may require them to use an oral appliance. This is similar to a mouth guard and propels the jaw forward to open up the airways.

Losing weight

Excess weight around the neck can impair breathing, so losing weight is always a viable way to significantly cut down on sleep apnea symptoms.

Do you think you may have sleep apnea? Contact your doctor today.