Sleep Apnea – A Visual Guide

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep.

Below is a visual guide depicting how sleep apnea affects your body (images courtesy of the National Institute of Health – NIH).

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Untreated sleep apnea can:

  • Increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, obesity, and diabetes
  • Increase the risk of, or worsen, heart failure
  • Make arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats, more likely
  • Increase the chance of having work-related or driving accidents

Causes of sleep apnea can include obesity, medications (such as muscle relaxants, narcotic pain medications, anxiety medications, and sedative sleep medications),
alcohol, hypothyroidism, and neuromuscular diseases including certain muscular dystrophies, ALS or other muscular weaknesses.

If you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of fatigue, irritability, headaches, repeated “micro awakenings”, decreased memory, lack of alertness, or sleeps 10-12 hours and is still not rested, you should consider having an examination performed and see if a sleep study is recommended.

If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea or related condition there are a variety of different treatment options available to you including surgical, non-surgical and lifestyle changes.  Examples include but are not limited to CPAP machines, dietary changes, dental devices, and radio frequency ablation or RFA may be recommended.  RFA is a new treatment option that allows patients with sleep apnea to be treated on an outpatient basis over a series of six visits to help cure the condition and eliminate the need for CPAP or other solutions.

If you or someone you know is in need of a better night’s sleep, contact us for a no obligation consultation. We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems.  We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAPRadio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.