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Sleep Apnea

Understanding Sleep Apnea & Sleep Disordered Breathing

The hallmark of apnea is repeated episodes of breathing cessation due to airway obstruction during sleep.

Sleep apnea is a medical condition involving abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. These abnormal breathing patterns involve:

  • Recurring episodes of breathing obstruction, and sleep interruptions.
  • Sleep fragmentation associated with episodes of decreased oxygenation (hypoxemia)
  • Chronic fatigue, excessive day-time sleepiness and decreased intellectual performance.

Sleep apnea spells:

  • Can be brief, lasting 1 or 2 seconds; or they can be much longer.
  • One can stop breathing for 5 seconds, 10 seconds, sometimes even as long as 60 seconds.
  • The longer one stops breathing, the worse the apnea; and the more frequently one stops breathing, the worse the apnea.

The Respiratory Disturbance Index (RDI), is a commonly utilized index to quantify the severity of the apnea. The index is a numeric specification of the number of abnormal breathing events per hour.

Sleep apnea sufferers usually are not aware of these airway obstructions.

  • One might snore oneself awake.
  • Occasionally, one might awaken gasping for breath, not sure why they are out of breath.
  • Most of the time, individuals with sleep apnea have no idea of their condition.
  • Bed partners can be aware of snoring, but may not necessarily understand what apnea is, and therefore may not recognize these abnormal breathing patterns.

yawning-manHistory of sleep apnea:

  • The term sleep apnea was coined in 1973. Prior to that, we did not have a label or a diagnosis for individuals with this disorder.
  • 3%-7% of the population suffers from apnea.
  • About 22 million Americans are diagnosed with apnea, but there are many more who are living with apnea undiagnosed, and untreated.

Much has been learned since that time, including a variety of sleep treatment options, including RFA.

About Us

If you or someone you know is in need of a better night’s sleep, contact us for a no obligation consultation. We are the sleep specialists at Chevy Chase ENT located in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington D.C. metro area dealing with sleep apnea and sleep-related problems.  We can help diagnose your condition, recommend whether a sleep study would be beneficial, and offer you a variety of treatment options including CPAPRadio Frequency Ablation (RFA) and more.