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What is Sleep Apnea?

Monday, March 23, 2020

It can be hard enough to fall asleep with a million and one distractions. Our to-do lists for tomorrow stressing us out already, our phones begging for our attention, or our brains are running a thousand miles an hour. Sleep diseases, however, can impact our sleep patterns even more, especially one called sleep apnea.

More than 18 million American adults currently have sleep apnea. That’s 18 million adults that are having trouble falling asleep and getting a full night’s rest of sleep. Imagine how much that is impacting their jobs, families, and lifestyle. Approximately 3-7% of men and 2-5% of women have sleep apnea.

To help lower the impact on Americans, we're explaining sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea?

As mentioned above, sleep apnea is a type of sleep disorder. This particular one impacts the way that one breathes while sleeping, so you can understand how it is a more serious one. More specifically, sleep apnea causes the breath to pause for an extended period of time and the bodies’ oxygen levels drop.

There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. Obstructive occurs when throat muscles relax while sleeping. Central happens when the brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that control breathing. Complex is a mixture of both.

What are the Symptoms?

Aside from having issues breathing while sleeping, here are some of the common symptoms those with sleep apnea experience:

●      Sleepy during the daytime.

●      Irritability.

●      Struggling to pay attention.

●      Morning headaches.

●      Dry mouth.

●      Snoring.

●      Difficulty staying asleep.

How do you Treat Sleep Apnea?

Thankfully, there are many treatment options available for sleep apnea. Among those are therapy possibilities such as continuous positive airway pressure, other airway pressure devices, and oral appliances. The newest approved therapy, Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation, or Inspire, uses electrical signals to open the airway at night.

Surgery is less common now than in the past but is recommended in certain cases, such as tissue removal, implants, jaw repositioning, or even creating a new air passageway.

Lifestyle changes may also make a difference; like losing extra weight, not drinking, sleeping on your side, and exercising more.

How SouthCoast Health Can Help

SouthCoast Health has an incredible sleep medicine department ready to treat any of your sleep issues, including sleep apnea. We offer consultation, testing, and follow up, including home sleep testing and formal in-lab testing at our accredited SouthCoast Health Sleep Center.

If you would like to learn more, click here to see the full range of services we offer.

If you would like to speak to our sleep medicine department to work through your sleep apnea issues, click here to schedule an appointment with us or give us a call at 912-691-3640.


Whether you are looking for a primary care doctor or a pediatrician, or another medical specialist, SouthCoast Health has you covered with its wide range of world-class healthcare services, available throughout the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry. SouthCoast Health has 120 physicians and medical professionals in 18 locations in Savannah, Richmond Hill, Pooler, Rincon, Baxley, Bluffton, Hilton Head, and Hinesville. SouthCoast Health offers comprehensive medical services including: Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Allergy and Immunity, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Eye Care, Imaging, Infectious Diseases, Nephrology, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Sleep Medicine, Surgery, Clinical Trial Research Studies, Diabetic Self-Management Training Sessions, Dietetic Counseling, High Risk Breast Cancer Clinic, Laboratory Services, Massage Therapy, Optical Shop, Pharmacy, and Urgent Care.

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