GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – If you find yourself gasping for air during sleep, doctors say you could be suffering from sleep apnea.
Bon Secours St. Francis conducts many sleep studies to diagnose sleep apnea in patients who wake up often during sleep.
According to Dr. Ahmad Boota, a pulmonologist with Bon Secours St. Francis Health, sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where the patient has a problem in the airflow during sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, obstructive sleep apnea can occur when the upper airway becomes blocked repeatedly during sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. If the brain does not send the signals needed to breathe, the condition may be called central sleep apnea.
He said signs include gasping for air during sleep and snoring, and says it is commonly seen in people who are overweight.
“It makes the soft tissue have larger or higher chance of collapsibility at night time,” he said.
For treatment, he often recommends weight loss and says there are two types of machines he can prescribe to patients for home use: a Continuous positive pressure machine, also known as a CPAP, or a BiPAP.
The CPAP provides positive air pressure to make the airway open. “For treatment in obstructive sleep apnea in particular, CPAP is a better option,” he said.
The BiPAP machine changes the pressure as you breathe so he said it is better for people with conditions like congestive heart failure.
Both machines have a humidifier, hose and attachment that is worn on your face all night.
When worn consistently during sleep, he said the machines can greatly improve sleep quality for those with sleep apnea
“The pressure maintains the airway open through the whole night and allows the sleep quality to improve and return to the normal type,” he explained.
According to the National Institute of Health, undiagnosed sleep apnea can lead to serious complications such as heart attack, glaucoma, cancer and cognitive and behavioral disorders.
To contact Bon Secours St. Francis’s sleep lab for more information about undergoing in a sleep study for a diagnosis of sleep apnea or other sleep disorders, click here.