Sleep apnea is no fun for anyone in the family. The affected person has to suffer through night after night of inadequate sleep, which often leaves them feeling irritable, moody, forgetful and exhausted during the day. The person’s partner, meanwhile, also gets insufficient sleep because of loud snoring, with very similar daytime results.
Snoring is one of the principle warning signs that someone might have sleep apnea. If this is the case, the snoring is more than just irritating – it can be life-threatening. For this reason, even though it can be difficult to talk with your partner about a snoring issue at night, it is worth the discomfort to get them the treatment they need. In other words, finding the courage to talk with your partner about snoring can literally save their life!
In this article, learn what you need to know about sleep apnea to be able to open up a dialogue with your partner about it.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea arises from an obstructed airway. Due to sleep position, the obstruction only happens at night, often when the tongue presses down against the back of the throat and cuts off air supply.
Here, it is important to know that not all cases of snoring result from sleep apnea. According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology (AAO), nearly half of all people will occasionally snore, and about one-quarter will do so regularly. Not all of these people have sleep apnea.
But for those people whose snoring is caused by an obstructed airway, snoring will be just one of several key symptoms.
Who Is Affected By Sleep Apnea?
While sleep apnea can strike anyone at any age, certain people are more likely to develop sleep apnea. This is due to several reasons, including a family history, ethnicity, age, gender and lifestyle choices.
If your partner snores loudly on a regular basis and also matches any of these descriptions, there is a higher likelihood that they may be suffering from sleep apnea:
– Are over the age of 40 and male.
– Come from Hispanic, African American or Pacific Islander ethnic background.
– Are overweight or obese.
– Have a small jaw and/or a receding chin, plus large tonsils, combined with a thick neck (16-17 inches or greater).
– Have a deviated septum or narrow sinus canals.
Why Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?
Sleep apnea itself can be fatal due to the potential for a lengthy airway obstruction that goes undetected. In this case, a person can suffocate in their sleep. Also, many people each year die because of daytime sleepiness caused by sleep apnea – often because they fall asleep while driving and endure a fatal accident.
Sleep apnea can also trigger the onset of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, impotence, migraine headaches and other serious health issues.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Sleep Apnea-Related Snoring
Diagnosing sleep apnea often begins with the awareness of one or more troublesome symptoms, such as a partner complaining about loud snoring or a persistent feeling of daytime sleepiness. Sometimes a patient will seek medical care for mood swings, memory problems or headaches as well.
By taking a medical history and performing an exam, it is usually possible for a doctor to suspect sleep apnea and make a referral to a sleep center for more tests. The sleep study is a key component of diagnosing not just the presence of sleep apnea but the type and severity.
Here, it is critical to understand that untreated sleep apnea will not resolve on its own. What is more likely is that the disorder will grow worse over time and become life threatening.
But the good news is that once there is a definitive diagnosis of sleep apnea, because this disorder is so common, most insurers now cover treatment, surgery and/or assistive equipment designed to treat sleep apnea.
How To Talk With A Partner About Nighttime Snoring
It is always a great idea to become as educated as possible before initiating a conversation with your partner about loud night time snoring. Understandably, your partner may be sensitive about the problem, so it is important to begin by expressing your love and care and your desire for you both to enjoy better, more restful sleep.
From here, you can expect several possible responses: denial, embarrassment, frustration or even fearfulness. Your partner may also feel helpless because they don’t know how to fix the problem.
The American Sleep Apnea Association (ASAA) offers four tests you can try at home first to determine if sleep apnea may be the cause. You can also try helping your partner to adjust their sleep position to see if a different position eases the snoring.
If this doesn’t work and the home test results seem to indicate it is time to make an appointment with your doctor, you can take this next step to seek out a diagnosis and be able to receive treatment.
The good news is, once you have a definitive diagnosis in hand, there are many options for sleep apnea treatment, either maintenance (such as a CPAP sleep machine for nighttime use) or permanent (surgery to remove airway obstructions and correct serious jaw misalignment issues).
Schedule Your Appointment with Dr. Jamali
Dr. Jamali is a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in facial reconstructive (orthognathic) surgery as well as dental anesthesiology and pain management. Most recently, he completed a special fellowship in Orthognathic Surgery at the prestigious Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.
Dr. Jamali has consistently earned rave 5-star reviews from Real Self and Top Doctor and Top 100 Provider awards. In his busy New York City, NY, practice, Dr. Jamali performs in-office outpatient procedures and also maintains a number of affiliations with respected area hospitals for his patients’ convenience.
To learn more and schedule your appointment with Dr. Jamali, call us at 212-480-2777 or visit us online at www.omsofny.com.