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How To Deal With Sleep Apnea - Howdini

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Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder, but there are treatments. Here's advice from Dr. Jordan Josephson, author and leading ear, nose and throat doctor.

I'm Lisa Birnbach. Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that can be very serious. Those who have it can't get enough air into their lungs, resulting in snoring, choking, and disrupted sleep. And it is a nightmare for anybody trying to sleep next to the person who has it. So what to do?

Here is Doctor Jordan Josephson, a leading ear, nose, and throat specialist in New York and author of Sinus Relief Now.

A lot of people snore, does that mean they all have sleep apnea?

No, snoring is not sleep apnea. First of all, snoring is the number one medical cause of divorce and break up of same and opposite sex partners. Snoring is really no joking matter, although we make fun of it. But the bottom line is, if you're sleeping with someone that's snoring, you're not sleeping well either, and they're not sleeping well.

Doctor, aside from snoring, are there any other measures of people having apnea who are tired, let's say?

When you have sleep apnea, you're not sleeping well at night. You're not getting the oxygen that you need to your brain. You're not well rested. You're waking up, you're tired. So sleep apnea, first of all, leads to people falling asleep during the day. And it leads to an inordinate amount of car accidents, people falling asleep at the wheel. So sleep apnea is more than just a loud noise that we make so much fun of, and we write off as nothing. It is detrimental, in our daily lives, our quality of life. And the certainly, if it leads to heart attack and stroke, it could be devastating to you.

So when people die in their sleep, it could be because of sleep apnea.

What happens with sleep apnea and snoring is there will be snoring in and out. [SNORING SOUNG] And then, all of sudden, you'll hear nothing. It will be silent, and, all of a sudden, they'll go [GASPING SOUND] like that.

And they may open their eyes, but in the morning, when you ask them, they won't know they woke up. But you'll see them, and you're like, wow. They stopped breathing for two minutes, and that was pretty scary. And it could be scary.

A lot of patients come in, and their spouses or their significant others are telling me they're shaking them to get them to be breathe again, before they'll arouses themselves enough. They come out of that deep sleep, because their brain is saying, hey, you're not getting oxygen to me, and, wake up buddy, time to take a breath, and boom.

Now, sleep apnea has a lot of symptoms, right?

Well, first you have to find out why you have the sleep apnea. So some of the causes of sleep apnea, whether it's sinus problems, allergies, GERD, because all of those problems can cause sleep apnea. Being overweight is a huge problem. If you're overweight, and you have sleep apnea, time to lose weight, very, very important-- key. Hydration is very important. So there are various causes that cause sleep apnea that need to be looked at to find out.

It may be the position of your neck, short neck, your tongue flops back. Or it could be that little thing on the back of your uvula, and the way your pallet closes off your airway. Or it could be your nose which has been blocked because you had an injury playing sports, or you fell in the crib, and your septum grew crooked, so you can't breathe through your nose.

You mentioned GERD. What is that?

Gastroesophageal reflux disease, and that means that the acids and pepsin from in your stomach comes up into your throat, maybe goes into your lung, and into your sinuses, flaring sinus problems and asthma. And in the meantime, if you bad sleep apnea, CPAP is very instrumental.

What is CPAP?

CPAP is they put a mask on your face, and the machine blows air to relieve the obstruction. And when it happens is it blows the oxygen into your lung, so it keeps you constantly oxygenated, and it keeps you from preventing to obstruct.

Do people have to be observed sleeping for doctors to know?

It's usually a multi-factorial problem. And you need to go to someone that can pull apart these different problems. The sleep study will tell you, at that particular night, how bad your sleep apnea is. But it might not tell you if that was a good night for you, and you're borderline, and maybe some nights you have sleep apnea, and some nights you don't.

OK, Thank you so much Doctor Josephson. I'm Lisa Birnbach.

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