How to recognize and treat sleep apnea

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – If you find yourself gasping for air during sleep, doctors say you could be suffering from sleep apnea.

Bon Secours St. Francis
conducts many sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea in patients who wake up
often during sleep.

According to Dr. Ahmad
Boota, a pulmonologist with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, sleep apnea is a sleep
disorder where the patient has a problem in the airflow during sleep.

According to
the National Sleep Foundation, obstructive sleep apnea can occur when the upper
airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping
airflow. If the brain does not send the signals needed to breathe, the
condition may be called central sleep apnea.

He said signs include
gasping for air during sleep and snoring, and says it is commonly seen in
people who are overweight.

“It
makes the soft tissue have
larger or higher chance of collapsibility at night time,” he said.

For treatment, he often
recommends weight loss and says there are two types of machines he can prescribe
to patients for home use: a Continuous positive pressure machine, also known as
a CPAP, or a BiPAP.

The CPAP provides positive
air pressure to make the airway open. “For treatment in obstructive sleep apnea
in particular, CPAP is a better option,” he said.

The BiPAP machine changes
the pressure as you breathe so he said it is better for people with conditions
like congestive heart failure.

Both machines have a
humidifier, hose and attachment that is worn on your face all night.

When worn consistently
during sleep, he said the machines can greatly improve sleep quality for those
with sleep apnea

“The pressure maintains the
airway open through the whole night and allows the sleep quality to improve and
return to the normal type,” he explained.

According
to the National Institute
of Health, undiagnosed sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as
heart attack, glaucoma, cancer and cognitive and behavioral disorders.

To contact Bon Secours St. Francis’s sleep lab for more information about undergoing in a sleep study for a diagnosis of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, click here.

To submit a health topic for our series, click here.

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