How Can I Tell if I Have Sleep Apnea if I Live Alone?

How Can I Tell if I Have Sleep Apnea if I Live Alone?

Sleep apnea has some clearly identifiable symptoms, including loud snoring, snorting, choking, or gurgling sounds in the night. For many, a partner’s complaints are the first hint that something is wrong. However, if you live alone, you may not have this early warning system. This means you need to be able to recognize less obvious symptoms on your own.

The providers at ENT of New Orleans, with four locations in Marrero, New Orleans, Chalmette, and Harvey, Louisiana, can help you identify signs of possible sleep apnea, and make a plan to get a proper diagnosis and treatment.  

Sleep apnea basics

Sleep apnea is a condition during which you stop breathing momentarily in your sleep. There are several types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

When you have OSA, the soft tissues at the back of your throat relax too much during sleep, meaning they close off your airway. You don’t wake up, but your brain recognizes it isn’t getting enough oxygen and initiates a startle response.

You’ll snort or gulp or make another convulsive throat movement to open your airway, then relax again. Sleep apnea can cause dozens of these interruptions an hour, meaning even though you’re asleep, you never get into the deep sleep that provides real rest for your body and brain.

Less obvious signs of sleep apnea

If you don’t have a bed partner to alert you to signs of snoring and snorting in your sleep, you need to be aware of other indications related to sleep apnea. The following can be clues that your sleep is being interrupted multiple times a night:

If you frequently experience one or more of these issues, consider recording yourself sleeping to find out if you make the tell-tale sounds of sleep apnea episodes. There are several phone apps you can use to monitor your sleep as well.   

OSA diagnosis and treatment 

Your doctor may order a home sleep test (HST) or a polysomnogram (PSG) to confirm OSA and gauge how bad it is. Some people have severe OSA and need a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, but this can be difficult to get accustomed to.

Many OSA patients find their symptoms are relieved with a more conservative treatment. We might recommend an oral appliance to be worn while you sleep. This can keep your airway open through jaw positioning and prevent sleep apnea episodes. 

Do you think you might have sleep apnea? You can schedule a consultation by calling the location closest to you, or request an appointment online.

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