An estimated 30 million Americans have sleep apnea, a disorder that makes a person stop breathing repeatedly while they’re asleep. Sleep apnea is serious, and it contributes to a range of other problems, including daytime sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk of heart disease.
Telltale signs of sleep apnea include loud snoring, gasping for air, and stopping breathing during sleep — but since these symptoms occur when someone is sleeping, they may not know it’s happening. In many cases, the spouses of people with sleep apnea are the first to recognize that something is wrong.
Sleep apnea is more than loud snoring. If you think your spouse has sleep apnea, it is important to take steps to address the issue and ensure they get the treatment they need. Eric Teller, MD, and our team at Kamelhar-Teller Pulmonology can help.
Here’s what to do if you’re worried your spouse might have sleep apnea.
Encourage your spouse to see a doctor
Of the estimated 30 million Americans with sleep apnea, only about 6 million have actually been diagnosed. Many people never get treatment, which increases their risk of more serious complications. These issues range from daytime fatigue and headaches to type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
So if your spouse has symptoms of sleep apnea, start by encouraging them to see a doctor. Dr. Teller specializes in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea. We start with a comprehensive health analysis, then perform a sleep study to diagnose the condition and its cause.
Help your spouse make lifestyle changes
We develop custom treatment plans for our sleep apnea patients. For many people, lifestyle changes can help manage sleep apnea and related complications.
Encourage your spouse to make healthy changes, such as quitting smoking or losing excess weight if they’re overweight. They may also need to avoid alcohol and sedatives, as these substances can relax the muscles in the throat and worsen sleep apnea.
Support your spouse’s sleep apnea treatment
Sleep apnea can be a frustrating and overwhelming condition to manage. Offer your spouse support and encouragement as they undergo treatment and learn to manage their sleep apnea.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are a common treatment for sleep apnea. CPAP delivers a constant stream of air through a mask to help keep the airway open during sleep. If we recommend CPAP for your spouse, find ways to support them while they get used to using the machine at night.
Alternative treatments for milder forms of sleep apnea include Mandibular advancement device (MAD) and Excite OSA. The MAD advances your lower jaw to open the airway during sleep. The Excite OSA device strengthens your tongue and helps prevent the tongue from falling back and blocking your airway during sleep. Currently, the Excite OSA has only been demonstrated to be of benefit in patients with mild OSA.
The Inspire device is an alternative to CPAP for more severe cases. A small device is implanted in the chest which stimulates the nerves which innervate your tongue to prevent the tongue from blocking your airway.
Consider scheduling your own sleep evaluation
Both men and women can have sleep apnea, and it gets increasingly common with age. If you are a loud snorer or have other symptoms of sleep apnea, seeking treatment for yourself can improve your health and the quality of sleep for both you and your spouse.
Sleep apnea is a serious condition, but treatment can make a big difference. Find answers and personalized care at Kamelhar-Teller Pulmonology in Midtown East, New York City. Request an appointment online or call us at 212-685-6611 today.