I snore. Do I have sleep apnea?

Kelli Janata, MD, is a pulmonologist at Banner North Colorado Medical Center who can be reached at (970) 810-2026.

Question: I have trouble sleeping and even if I get a full night of sleep I don’t feel rested. My wife tells me I snore a lot. Could I have something treatable or do I need to live with this?

Answer: Based on your symptoms, it is possible you have sleep apnea, a serious but treatable medical condition. For the 18 million people with sleep apnea, getting to the diagnosis may be difficult. In fact, the signs and symptoms have only come to the forefront in the past ten years.  The most common symptom is snoring but there are many other symptoms including:

  • Having to use the bathroom frequently at night
  • Waking up and gasping for air
  • Having your bed partner see you stop breathing
  • Waking after sleeping for eight hours still feeling tired and fatigued during the day

The test for sleep apnea is an overnight sleep study. If you have sleep apnea the most common treatment is a CPAP mask. Testing and treatment have changed lives and the majority of my patients tell me “I wish I would have had this diagnosed years ago.”

Your overall health can be changed as well. Every night with sleep apnea is like running a race; when you are supposed to be resting, apneic events are causing an adrenaline release that raises blood pressure, lowers heart rates to abnormal levels and releases glucose into the bloodstream. These events can carry over into the daytime and cause serious medical problem such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiac disease.

Sleep apnea is a critical and under recognized medical condition.  The diagnosis and treatment is vital to your health and well being.   Talk to your health care specialist if you suspect you or your loved one need to be tested.

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