It annoys spouses and makes us laugh in television sitcoms, but snoring can sometimes signify a serious, potentially fatal health condition called obstructive sleep apnea.
Now a patient can find out at home if their snoring is contributing to obstructive sleep apnea thanks to a new in-home sleep study offered by the Union Hospital Sleep Disorders Center.
?Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) accounts for about 90 percent of sleep disorders that we see,? said Allen Corbett, manager of Union?s Respiratory Care and Sleep Disorders Center.
?Sleep apnea not only affects quality of life by depriving us of the deep restful sleep we need, it can lead to serious health complications like congestive heart failure, heart attack, hypertension, and depression.?
Corbett says OSA is the result of a loss of elasticity in the muscles and soft tissue surrounding the tongue, which blocks the airway.
?As the airway begins to close snoring can occur, growing louder until the airway is closed and breathing stops,? Corbett says. ?The body becomes starved for oxygen and the brain wakens the individual just enough to reopen the airway and allow breathing to resume.?
Corbett says the awakening may result in a loud snorting or gasping sound which is enough to restart breathing but not enough to fully awaken the sleeper.
?This cycle of loud snoring and gasping to restart breathing can occur repeatedly during the night. The next day the individual feels extremely tired and sleepy because they didn?t get the deep sleep they require the night before.?
Sleep apnea is typically diagnosed while the patient sleeps the night at the Union Hospital Sleep Disorders Center. Sleep indicators are monitored and recorded by a trained sleep technician. Test results from the study are interpreted by a board-certified sleep specialist physician.
?If OSA is diagnosed the patient may be prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP) which uses a very slight air pressure to help the airway remain open while the patient sleeps.? said Corbett. ?CPAP has helped many people have restful sleep and reduced the risk of medical complications and daytime sleepiness.?
In addition to traditional sleep studies, Union Hospital?s Sleep Disorders Center now offers an outpatient sleep monitoring device that can be self-administered by the patient in their own home.
Amanda Alderman (left) and Renee Berlyak (right),
both registered polysomnographic technologists at
Union Hospital, demonstrate the very compact
equipment used to detect possible sleep apnea while
the patient sleeps at home.
?The home monitoring method is a convenient and cost-effective way to determine whether an individual may have obstructive sleep apnea,? said Corbett, ?and help the physician decide if additional testing is needed in our Sleep Disorders Center.?
A doctor?s order is required for both in Lab sleep studies and home sleep studies. For questions about the Union Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, call (330) 364-0874.