June is the time of the year for barbeque, family gatherings and Father’s Day. Did you know that it’s also Men’s Health Month? Today, we’re going to focus on a health condition that’s common to men but often undiagnosed: sleep apnea. This is a condition in which the airway collapses during sleep, causing the person to temporarily wake up to take a breath. It’s marked by a number of symptoms, including:
- Loud snoring: This, being one of the most common symptoms, is one to keep your eye out for. It is especially concerning when your snoring becomes so loud it disrupts you or others, or when it is spaced out between a long period of silence.
- Changes in Mood: Since those with sleep apnea are not getting the proper rest they need, it is possible to experience mood swings. Those affected can be more easily irritated and have heightened aggression. The lack of sleep may also cause those affected to feel anxious, sad, and at times depressed.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness: Going to sleep at night is supposed to help refresh you and give you renewed energy for the next day. But for people with sleep apnea, that’s not the case. If you find yourself feeling tired when you wake up in the morning after a full night’s sleep, or if you are unable to concentrate at work because you’re so tired, it could be a sign of sleep apnea.
- Waking up feeling short of breath: Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common forms of the disorder, a form that causes your throat muscles to relax when you’re asleep. This forces your airway to close.
- Morning Headaches: The lack of oxygen and frequent waking often means that one has a headache upon awaking.
If the man in your life is experiencing these symptoms, it is time to get him tested for sleep apnea! We can find out if you only have simple snoring, or if your snoring is a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. To evaluate this, you will need to take an overnight sleep study, called a polysomnogram. Typically, this test is conducted in a sleep center and measures the individual’s heart rate, respiration, brain activity, eye movement, and blood oxygen level. If you have OSA, the sleep study will show if it is mild, moderate, or severe. These brief awakenings keep you from enjoying long periods of deep sleep. Give the gift of sleep this Father’s Day, come into the Ear, Nose and Throat Institute for an evaluation!