woman asleep with cpap machineSleep apnea is a disorder where breathing is constantly disrupted throughout the night. Each time a person stops breathing in their sleep, the brain suddenly wakes them up.  The process happens all night long and doesn’t allow the sufferer to achieve enough deep sleep. This can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, concentration problems, and a host of other very serious health issues.  Because this disorder is so disruptive to a persons life, finding the correct treatment is crucial.  Michigan Head and Neck Institute understands the need for proper treatment which is why we offer safe and effective treatments for sleep apnea.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common form of treatment for snoring and sleep apnea and many people with these symptoms wonder if they can get a CPAP without completing a sleep study.  While it is possible to get a CPAP machine without a prescription, undergoing a sleep study is beneficial to understanding a persons sleep disorder and how it may impact their life.  Michigan Head and Neck Institute is equipped to answer many questions about sleep issues and their associated treatments.

Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

While there are different forms of sleep apnea, many of the symptoms are shared.  Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the disorder.  In this case, during sleep, the airway becomes blocked or collapsed, causing periods of breathlessness.  Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is the less common form, but happens where there is a neurological problem between the signals from the brain to the muscles responsible for breathing.  Some people suffer from a combination of both types called Mixed Apnea.

Snoring is the most common symptom observed, but in addition many suffer from significant daytime fatigue, headaches, dry mouth, sore throat, night sweats, insomnia, and difficulty with physical activity.  Others may suffer from chest pains, changes in mood, depression and or difficulty concentrating.  When left untreated, sufferers can develop high blood pressure, diabetes, and can even increase the risk of developing cancers.  However, its not just the patient that suffers from poor sleep!  Often times the bed-partner or spouse is the most common person to observe these issues.

What Is a Sleep Study?

Many suffering some combination of sleep apnea symptoms will seek a doctors advice, who may recommend a sleep study, also know as a polysomnography.  A sleep study uses a number of instruments to help diagnose and differentiate sleep disorders.  These sleep studies evaluate your brain waves, breathing patterns, blood oxygen levels, and a number of other factors to help determine the scope and extent of any issues you’re experiencing.  Most sleep studies are conducted overnight, where you’ll be asked to sleep in a quiet darkened room.  You are usually asked to wear comfortable clothes to sleep in and bring any toiletries or items that may help you wind down.  You may be asked to abstain from caffeine or other substances that could disturb your sleep patterns.  Some electrodes and other diagnostic instruments will be attached to your head and body to help analyze your sleeping behaviors throughout the night.  Once the test is completed you will attend a follow-up appointment to discuss your test results and treatment options.

How Do CPAP Machines Work?

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines have been used for the treatment of sleep apnea since the 1980’s.  CPAP machines are currently the “gold standard” for treating the majority of sleep apnea cases when used properly.  CPAP treatment consists of a machine that pushes humidified air through tubing connected to a sleep mask.  The air acts like a stint as it travels from the mask directly into the airways and lungs.  With the airways open, oxygen can flow freely into the lungs, snoring is minimalized and the patient is able to breathe and sleep easier.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, Michigan Head & Neck Institute is ready to help. Residents in Southeast Michigan can call (586) 573-0438 to schedule a consultation.