Sleep Apnea Treatment & Symptoms | Surgery & Machines

Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

People suffering from sleep apnea stop breathing for more than 10 seconds at a time during sleep. Sleep apnea can be classified into two categories: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a physical obstruction to the upper airways. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send signals to the muscles that control breathing. Both types of sleep apnea stop breathing and cause sleep disturbance.

Sleep apnea affects as many as one out of 10 Americans. Sleep apnea is more common in men than women. It’s also more common in people who are overweight. A leading risk factor for sleep apnea is obesity. Sleep apnea can also lead to other health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disesase, or stroke. Continuous positive air pressure, or CPAP, is an effective form of treatment for both types of sleep apnea.

How does sleep apnea occur?

During normal sleep, the throat muscles relax. Your airway can become blocked if there is too little room inside your throat or too much tissue pressing on the outside of your throat. Blockage halts the movement of air, and the amount of oxygen in your blood drops. The drop in oxygen causes the brain to rouse you from sleep so that you can reopen your airway.

If you suffer from sleep apnea, this cycle may repeat 50 or more times an hour, impairing your ability to reach deep, restful sleep. You may not remember waking up. However, these arousals lead to daytime sleepiness.

Risk factors of sleep apnea

Being overweight is a leading risk factor of sleep apnea. Weight gain may cause a narrowing of your airway. Other risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive drinking
  • Lung disease
  • Abnormal sleep patterns
  • Hereditary factors
  • A narrowed airway
  • Other medical conditions

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

If you have sleep apnea, your body receives less oxygen when you don’t sleep well. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring interrupted by pauses in breathing; followed by loud gasps
  • Not feeling rested when you wake up in the morning
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Headaches in the morning
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Anxiety, irritability, or depression
  • Sleepiness while driving

Many people who snore do not have sleep apnea. But nearly everyone who has sleep apnea snores. If you snore and do not enjoy a good night of rest, contact Gwinnett Sleep.

How do we diagnose sleep apnea?

For mild cases of sleep apnea, your doctor may suggest lifestyle changes such as losing weight or quitting smoking. For more severe cases of sleep apnea, treatment options are available. To diagnose sleep apnea, Gwinnett Sleep doctors will:

  • Inquire about your family’s health history
  • Examine your throat and nasal passages
  • Conduct a sleep study at our sleep disorders clinic. Your heart rate, brain waves, chest movement, and blood oxygen levels will be measured while you sleep. The study will help to determine if the movement of air slows during sleep or if your air movement stops completely. It will also show how often this occurs during sleep.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

Untreated sleep apnea can lead to serious, long-term health effects. Sleep apnea may increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and sudden death. Effective treatment of sleep apnea may result in normal blood pressure, relief of fatigue, and weight loss.

The most common treatment is the utilization of a machine that sends pressurized air into your nose and throat at night. How much pressure you need is determined by the sleep study. Your health care provider will carefully supervise your usage of this breathing machine; minor adjustments may need to be made so it works right for you. This treatment is called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).

Sleep apnea can be cured if it is caused by a reversible problem such as weight gain; or it can be treated with surgery. For most people, however, sleep apnea will be a persistent problem, and the CPAP machine will need to be utilized regularly to maintain quality sleep and prevent serious complications of sleep apnea.

If you have pressure on your throat because of excess fatty tissue in your throat, your health care provider may suggest a weight-loss program. It may be hard for you to lose weight because you are extremely tired and lack the energy to exercise. Use of the breathing machine may help you rest well enough to initiate diet changes and increase physical activity.

Surgery may be an option if you cannot use the breathing machine regularly and properly. This procedure may include improving the air passage in the nose, removing the tonsils, or moving the back of the tongue forward.

Experimental treatments include:

  • Medications that increase muscle tone during sleep
  • Pacemakers sense when blockages are occurring during sleep and stimulate throat muscles to open up the throat before you wake up.

It is too early to determine if these experimental treatments will become acceptable treatments of sleep apnea.

Healthy sleep is important If you struggle with sleep over a long period of time, it’s time to consult a sleep specialist. Seeking a sleep medicine specialist could also be beneficial if you believe you are experiencing a sleep disorder like sleep apnea. If you are looking to get quality sleep and improve your overall health, call Gwinnett Sleep at 678-582-1929 to schedule an appointment today.



Can You Die From Sleep Apnea?

Do you have a problem with snoring? Do you always feel exhausted, no matter how much you sleep? You may have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a disorder that makes it hard to breathe while you’re asleep. It can cause you to stop breathing for short periods, leading to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, and even death.

Yes, it is possible to die from sleep apnea.

Continue reading to learn how sleep apnea can affect you and what puts someone at a greater risk of dying from this sleep disorder.

How sleep apnea affects breathing and causes death

If you’re like most people, you probably take your breathing for granted. Breathing is something we do unconsciously, and we don’t think about it until something goes wrong. But for people with sleep apnea, breathing can be a real challenge. This severe disorder needs professional intervention, as people can die from sleep apnea.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, occurs when the throat muscles relax, causing blocked airways. The air loss from obstruction can occur dozens of times throughout the night. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain “forgets” to signal the muscles that control breathing. Each of these types can result in snoring, gasping for breath, and moments where the person stops breathing.

Sleep apnea causes death due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.

According to Jenna Liphart Rhoads, R.N. and Ph.D., “Sleep apnea can directly cause death by a person’s breathing being infrequent enough to create immediate tissue ischemia (tissue death from lack of oxygen) in the heart and/or brain, resulting in a fatal heart attack or stroke.”

Lacking oxygen frequently throughout the night is detrimental to one’s health. The constant fight-or-flight response from the diminished oxygen levels puts stressors on the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as the central nervous system, which can ultimately result in death.

Those at risk for complications

A study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine shows “that people who have severe sleep apnea, which involves frequent breathing pauses during sleep, have three times the risk of dying due to any cause compared with people who do not have sleep apnea.”

And the risk is more significant in people who have preexisting conditions.

Many people who suffer from sleep apnea tend to have other medical conditions, such as being overweight, having diabetes, or having high blood pressure or heart disease. These risk factors create the perfect storm that can lead to death from sleep apnea.

Below are general risk factors for sleep apnea, and ones that can potentially increase the risk for death:

  • Being overweight
  • A large neck circumference that could make your airways more narrow
  • A narrowed airway that you inherited or developed from large tonsils or adenoids
  • Being male
  • Older age
  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Use of alcohol, sedatives, or tranquilizers
  • Nasal congestion
  • Medical conditions such as type 2 diabetes, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, PCOS, hormonal disorders, prior stroke, or chronic lung diseases like asthma

While many people have one or more of these risk factors and have sleep apnea, this does not mean that they will die. But they are more at risk. There are multiple treatments for sleep apnea on the market; if you have this disorder, it would be wise to speak with a sleep specialist and discuss treatment options.


There are several documented cases of people dying from sleep apnea. If you’re one of the millions who suffer from this disorder, it’s essential to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect yourself. However, sleep apnea doesn’t have to be a death sentence with the proper treatment. So talk to a sleep specialist at Gwinnett Sleep and ensure you do everything you can to keep yourself safe.


Can Sleep Apnea be Cured?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects your ability to breathe properly at night. Millions of people worldwide suffer from it; it is more common than you think. If you have sleep apnea, you may snore loudly and experience brief interruptions in your breathing. Sleep apnea can lead to various health problems and even death if left untreated. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for sleep apnea, but thankfully, there are different treatment options available for sleep apnea. We’ll also share tried and true tips on reducing sleep apnea symptoms.

So if you’re struggling with this disorder, read on! You may find some relief ahead.

Sleep apnea can affect anyone

Yes, anyone. Sleep apnea can affect children and healthy adults and can develop at any point in one’s life. Some people can do years of their adult life free from this sleep disorder, then suddenly develop it.

While anyone can develop sleep apnea, these are the populations in which it is more common or those who have more risk:

  • Men
  • Older adults
  • Those who are overweight
  • Those with a narrowed airway
  • Those with a family history
  • Those with enlarged necks
  • Those who use alcohol or sedatives before sleep
  • Those who smoke
  • Those who are frequently congested
  • Those with certain medical conditions such as chronic lung disease, asthma, or heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes

Unfortunately, there is no cure. Cure, meaning there is not one thing you can do, such as take a pill, and it is gone forever. However, what is available are three main types of treatments, along with things that can reduce your risk of developing it in the first place or make the disorder you already have less severe.

Available treatments for sleep apnea

  • Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) machines

Most people have heard of a CPAP machine, which is the most common way to treat moderate to severe sleep apnea. The “C” in CPAP refers to the continuous stream of air from the machine into the sleeper’s airways, preventing it from collapsing, which is one of the causes of sleep apnea.

Other PAP machines are available, although those are more complex and typically aren’t the first treatment to try. Examples are the BiPAP, APAP, and EPAP machines. The Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV) machine is geared toward people with central sleep apnea.

Getting your hands on one of these treatments requires a visit to the sleep specialist.

  • Oral Appliance

For mild to moderate sleep apnea, an oral appliance that looks and feels like a mouth guard is available as a treatment option. This appliance is made to custom-fit your mouth and prevents your tongue and other soft tissues from obstructing your airway by adjusting your jaw placement while you sleep. A dentist who specializes in dental sleep medicine is the one who will help you obtain a customized oral appliance after a referral from your sleep specialist.

  • Surgery

Surgery is the last option for those who found the PAP machine and oral appliance to be ineffective. This treatment is primarily for those with severe sleep apnea, those with enlarged tonsils or adenoids, or those with atypical bones in their facial formation. Surgery as a treatment in children has produced positive results, resulting in fewer adults with sleep apnea.

Reduce symptoms with these tips

To lessen the symptoms of sleep apnea or reduce your risk of getting it all together, here are some tips.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid alcohol or sedatives before bed
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Use nasal decongestants if you experience congestion at night

There are ways to reduce your risk of developing sleep apnea and for you to have a healthy sleep.


If you have sleep apnea, don’t worry. You are not alone. Multiple treatment options exist for those with mild, moderate, and severe sleep apnea. Treatment options include lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices. Contact Gwinnett Sleep today and get help from a sleep specialist to find the best treatment for you and start getting the good night’s sleep you deserve.


Is Sleep Apnea Genetic?

If you’re one of the millions who suffer from a sleep disorder, you may have wondered if it’s something you were born with. It’s a question that researchers are still trying to answer. It’s been a long-standing belief that sleep apnea is a hereditary disorder. But a recent study has challenged that notion, instead suggesting that environmental factors are more likely to blame for the development of this sleep disorder. Also, some evidence suggests specific genes may make some people more likely to develop sleep apnea. So what does this mean for people who have sleep apnea?

Keep reading to learn more about genes’ role in this condition.

Your DNA and sleep apnea

Interestingly, in the past few years, a study showed genetic factors play somewhat of a role in the development of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Researchers found that at least 40% of the time, someone stops breathing in their sleep due to genetics. A person with obstructive sleep apnea is more likely to have a relative with that type of sleep apnea.

According to the National Library of Medicine experts,

“The causes of obstructive sleep apnea are often complex. This condition results from a combination of genetic, health, and lifestyle factors, many of which have not been identified. Studies suggest that variations in multiple genes, each with a small effect, combine to increase the risk of developing the condition. However, it is unclear what contribution each of these genetic changes makes to disease risk.”

With this being said, genetics is the only factor that comes into play regarding developing sleep apnea. Lifestyle and environmental factors play a role even more so than your DNA.

Environmental factors related to sleep apnea

Environmental factors include everything surrounding you, some within your control and others not. Temperature, pollutants, sound, climate, water quality, and disease are some examples of environmental factors that do not relate to nor affect genetics.

A study found that allergic diseases and air pollution, which are both on the rise due to climate change, negatively affect the “cardiological consequences” of obstructive sleep apnea. People who live in areas with poor air quality may be more at risk of developing sleep apnea and their current sleep apnea intensifying. This remains true inside the home. People who smoke are more at risk in general; however, those who come into contact with secondhand smoke are also more likely to develop sleep apnea, even if they don’t smoke themselves.

In the end, a combination of lifestyle, environment, and genetics will determine if you develop sleep apnea.


If you’re one of the unlucky ones with sleep apnea, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Ultimately it doesn’t necessarily matter whether or not you hit the DNA jackpot for sleep apnea; what really matters is that you recognize it and treat it before it negatively impacts your health. Thankfully, some treatments can help you get your snoozing under control. The most important thing is to seek help from a specialist, such as the experts at Gwinnett Sleep, and find a treatment plan that works for you.


How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Do you wake up feeling exhausted, even if you think you got a good night’s sleep? Do you snore? Are you always tired? You might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that causes interruptions in your breathing while you’re asleep. Left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems. If you’re concerned that you might have sleep apnea, there are some clues to look for. Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea symptoms and how to get tested for the condition.

Symptoms of sleep apnea to be aware of

According to experts at the American Medical Association, “about 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but only 6 million are diagnosed with the condition.”

It’s scary that millions of people have sleep apnea and have no clue. It can be a deadly condition, which is even more concerning. This is why it is crucial to be knowledgeable about sleep apnea symptoms. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea.

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep — which another person would report
  • Gasping for air during sleep
  • Awakening with a dry mouth
  • Morning headache
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake
  • Irritability

Knowing the symptoms of this disorder is important because it can help you get the treatment you need if you are diagnosed with sleep apnea.

Three types of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects how you breathe when sleeping and can affect people in one of three ways. There are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive, central, and complex. Each type has different symptoms and requires different treatments, so it’s essential to speak to a doctor about your symptoms, do a sleep test, and find out how to treat the type you suffer from.

The three types are as follows:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type, happens when the throat muscles (specifically affecting the tongue and soft palate) relax and every so often obstructs the airway.
  • Central sleep apnea involves a part of the central nervous system, AKA the brain. In people with this type of sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing, resulting in
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone technically has both obstructive and central sleep apnea. More specifically, central sleep apnea occurs when treated for obstructive sleep apnea.

That might be a lot to digest. The best thing to do is to seek professional help and undergo testing to determine your type of sleep apnea, as you won’t be able to diagnose yourself.


Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can have deadly consequences if left untreated. If you think you or someone you love may have sleep apnea, get tested for it as soon as possible. Living with untreated sleep apnea can cause various unwanted symptoms like fatigue, chronic headaches, and even depression. So don’t wait – find out if you have sleep apnea by contacting the experts at Gwinnett Sleep and take steps to fix your symptoms today!


Is Sleep Apnea a Disability?

Millions of people in the United States suffer from sleep apnea, whether they are aware or not. This disorder can be frustrating to live with due to its many symptoms and short and long-term consequences. We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is key to energy and productivity during the day. What if you can’t get a good night’s sleep because of a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea? Is that also considered a disability?

Let’s explore sleep apnea and whether or not it qualifies as a disability.

What constitutes a disability?

Sometimes people say or think they have a disability, but according to government and insurance standards, they might not.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a disability in a legal manner, which may be different than how it is defined under other laws. Social security, for example, defines a disability in medical terms, not legal. Their definition is as follows:

“An individual with a disability is defined as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.”

Perceived by others refers to individuals regarded as having a disability.

People hoping to get social security benefits due to their sleep apnea diagnosis might be in luck.

Can you get disability benefits for having sleep apnea?

Fortunately and unfortunately, sleep apnea is considered a disability, to an extent. It depends on your sleep apnea symptoms and if they meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria.

Disability experts state, “Sleep apnea [is] not considered a disability by the SSA, but sleep apnea can cause other breathing disorders and heart problems, which can be considered disabilities by the SSA. If you meet the medical criteria for one of those listings, you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.”

A way to check if you qualify for SS benefits is to look under Sleep Related Breathing Disorders in the electronic Listing of Impairments. Having specific symptoms of sleep apnea can help you qualify.

You might have to do some additional research and make a few calls if you are genuinely interested in getting disability benefits for your sleep apnea symptoms.

What to do if your sleep apnea doesn’t get you disability benefits?

Sleep apnea can be considered a disability, but not always directly in a legal or medical sense. Knowing this act might be okay for most people. However, some may want to pursue this issue further.

Millions of people are under this category, so you won’t be alone. Not everyone who has sleep apnea is going to get Social Security benefits. Even if you don’t gain these benefits, you can still help treat your sleep apnea – and you should.

See a sleep specialist, like the excellent doctors who work for Gwinnett Sleep. They work hard to ensure you don’t have to suffer from sleep apnea symptoms.


Can Sleep Apnea Cause High Blood Pressure?

Every year around the country, millions of people seek treatment for their sleep apnea; however, many wait until they greatly suffer from the consequences of the disorder. If you’re one of the many people who experience unwanted symptoms from sleep apnea, you may be worried about the health implications caused by it. Many related conditions can occur due to complications from sleep apnea, and high blood pressure is one of those.

How is sleep apnea related to high blood pressure? In this post, we’ll explore the link between these two conditions and look at how you can reduce your risk of hypertension by keeping your sleep apnea in check.

How sleep apnea affects blood pressure

Sleep apnea commonly occurs when muscles in the back of the throat relax during sleep. Tissues such as the tonsils, the soft palate, and the tongue drop in relaxation and obstruct the airways by narrowing them. This is why the most common type of sleep apnea is called obstructive sleep apnea.

People can’t get enough air to oxygenate their bloodstream when this obstruction happens.

Physicians at the Mayo Clinic explain that “Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Having bstructive sleep apnea increases your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension).”

When those with obstructive sleep apnea wake several times a night, this is due to the brain signaling the body that they must “fight or flight” to survive, or in this case, breathe. Snoring, gasping, or choking before waking up (people might not even know that they woke up for a mere second) leads to this adrenaline response.

Ultimately, the brain and body wake the sleeper up to trigger them to reopen their airway.

Breathing is good; however, having sleep apnea and high blood pressure is not good.

Blood pressure issues during the day

Unfortunately, suffering from sleep apnea and high blood pressure throughout the night can carry over to the daytime.

The constant ebb and flow of adrenaline, the sporadic wakefulness, and the harmful blood pressure spikes negatively affect the central nervous system.

“All of these changes [the things that happen due to increased adrenaline] help us respond to stressful events; however, excessive activation of the sympathetic nervous system can lead to chronically elevated blood pressure,” say experts at the Sleep Foundation.

The last thing people want is to deal with sleep apnea during the night and then chronic high blood pressure during the day.


The best thing to do in this situation, whether you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea (with or without high blood pressure) in the past or you suspect you may have the disorder, is to reach out to a sleep specialist ASAP. There is no reason to wait. Waiting to seek help for your sleep apnea only prolongs the inevitable –– that you need an effective treatment plan. Gwinnett Sleep has expert somnologists (sleep doctors) who can help you achieve a good night’s sleep without all the suffering.