Sleep apnea is a common sleeping disorder characterized by irregular breathing pattern that can last from a few seconds to minutes. The episodes may be as frequent to occur a hundred times while the person sleeps. It is usually accompanied by loud snoring followed by breathing pauses then snorting or gasping for air when the person briefly awakens. While it appears relatively harmless, the disorder is not just a simple sleep disturbance but a dangerous and even a fatal condition if it remains untreated by doctors for sleep apnea.
When is the time to see the doctors for sleep apnea?
The need to see a doctor is more felt if any of the following situations prevail:
• You or your spouse often snores loudly and intermittently during sleep. Headache, daytime fatigue, and sleepiness are usually experienced when waking up in the morning.
• Your or your spouse’s snoring occurs in crescendo followed by breathing pause then brief choking or gasping sounds.
• You involuntarily fall asleep in the middle of performing daytime tasks such as eating, talking or even while driving.
• Your child snores while sleeping, has breathing problems, feels restless, wakes up frequently and sleepy during the day.
These common symptoms are enough to warn you that you or your spouse or child may be suffering from sleep apnea. Regardless of its type, the condition needs exhaustive diagnosis and long-term treatment to prevent the onset of more serious complications such as heart disease, hypertension, and sudden death.
Doctors for sleep apnea may require you to undergo some tests to rule out other ailments that may have the same symptoms. Upon confirmation, the certified sleep doctor may recommend the best treatment option for you.
Who to see for sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment?
You can see a phalanx of health professionals to check on your condition. You need to consult first with your family doctor since he has the record of your health history. If he has no specialization in the field of sleep apnea, he is in a better position to decide and recommend the most certified and reputable doctor to treat your sleep apnea. Other professionals in the medical field that you can see include internists, pediatrician for your child, nurse practitioner and sleep disorder specialists.
A sleep apnea specialist initially performs a sleep study or sleep test that can be done at your home or in the clinic. The results are indicative of the severity of the condition based on the symptom parameters such as oxygen levels in the blood and the intensity of fatigue or daytime sleepiness. With these indicators, the doctors for sleep apnea may be able to prescribe the proper treatment for your condition. Oftentimes, a single specialist is enough to manage the ailment. There are cases, though, that requires multi-disciplinary interventions by different specialist.
If you are afflicted with other ailments that may possibly aggravate due to sleep apnea, you may need to see the following health professionals:
• Cardiologist: for your heart problems
• Pulmonologist: for lung ailments
• Otolaryngologist or ENT doctor: one who can perform surgery to correct deformities or defects in the ear, nose, and throat areas.
• Orthodontist: to design or fabricate an oral breathing device
Sleep apnea is a complex sleep disorder that is not limited to the respiratory system alone. This interrelated condition involves other body organs; thus, the intervention of multiple specialists is often necessary.
If sleep apnea is mild, your family physician may be enough to handle and provide treatment for your snoring. He may recommend simple methods such as weight loss, change in sleeping position, and a change in your lifestyle. However, if your condition is diagnosed as severe, you need to immediately seek the help of doctors for sleep apnea who may prescribe the use of some gadgets or machines and may even suggest surgery to correct some physical deformations in the throat area.