There’s far more to sleep apnea than loud snoring; you repeatedly stop breathing for short periods every night. If you experience sleep apnea symptoms, Keviene Rutherford, MD, at Rutherford Medical Center in Alpharetta, Georgia, can help. He uses advanced diagnostics to discover what’s causing your sleep apnea and enables you to breathe properly while asleep. Call Rutherford Medical Center or schedule a consultation online today for expert help managing sleep apnea.

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What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea affects your breathing while you’re asleep. If you develop sleep apnea, your breathing frequently stops throughout the night, potentially hundreds of times for brief periods. Consequently, your body doesn’t get enough oxygen while you sleep.

Untreated sleep apnea can cause severe health problems, including:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Depression

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the condition’s most common kind. OSA develops when the airway is blocked, usually by the soft tissues in the back of your throat. As you sleep, the soft tissues relax across the airway, preventing you from breathing until your brain wakes you up.

Central sleep apnea is a neurological problem rather than a blockage. It happens because your brain isn’t telling your muscles to breathe.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea symptoms include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Frequently waking
  • Waking up choking or gasping
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Restlessness at night
  • Forgetfulness
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of libido (sex drive)

You might be unaware that sleep apnea affects you because you’re asleep when you stop breathing. Often, a partner is the first to notice that someone frequently stops breathing while sleeping.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

To diagnose sleep apnea, Rutherford Medical Center provides you with a monitoring device to wear while you sleep. This device measures your heart rate and the oxygen levels in your blood to determine if you’re getting enough oxygen.

You might need to undergo other studies, for example, an electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG), electromyogram (EMG), nasal airflow test, and/or snore recording.

Some patients might need to spend a night at a sleep clinic to be monitored while sleeping.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Initial sleep apnea treatments can include habit changes and other self-help measures, including:

  • Losing weight
  • Avoiding alcohol
  • Changing sleep position
  • Stopping smoking
  • Not sleeping on your back
  • Avoiding sleeping pills

If these treatments don’t work for you, then you may require additional assistance.

The most common method of treating obstructive sleep apnea is with a CPAP machine.  However, Rutherford Medical Center offers laser treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is FDA-approved and has a greater level of efficacy than CPAP.

Here are the reasons why Dr. Rutherford offers Laser treatment over CPAP:

  • Many patients are not able to tolerate CPAP devices
  • You have to remember to wear it at night
  • It is noisy and uncomfortable.
  • It diminishes intimacy
  • It creates increased inflammation and swelling of the oropharynx, which further narrows the passage, requiring increased pressure adjustment of the device over time 
  • The increased pressure can be damaging to alveoli, which are the fragile units for air exchange within the lungs
  • You can sometimes get breath when you don’t need it, causing breath stacking and lung damage
  • You are at risk of getting infection from your device without frequent and proper cleaning
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may be a candidate for laser treatment.  Give Rutherford Medical Center a call today or schedule a consultation online.