Sleep Apnea

Internal Medicine, Physical Therapy, Pediatrics & Pulmonology located in San Antonio, TX

Nearly 30 million Americans currently have sleep apnea — but an astonishing 80% of moderate and severe cases of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the most common sleep apnea, go undiagnosed. At SA Premier Internal Medicine, with three offices in San Antonio, Texas, the dedicated medical specialists offer comprehensive sleep apnea care in the same place where you get all your health and wellness care. Book your appointment online or call the office nearest to you to set up your visit now.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a group of sleep disorders that involve disrupted breathing. The main types of sleep apnea include: 

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)

OSA occurs when the throat muscles relax excessively during sleep. Of people with sleep apnea, 90% have OSA. The soft tissues, including your tongue, cover the airway, preventing you from breathing. The brain senses this problem and briefly wakes you up to correct the issue. But, you’ll usually fall asleep again quickly and won’t remember this disruption later. 

Central sleep apnea (CSA)

Like OSA, CSA involves stop-and-start breathing cycles, but in this case it occurs for a different reason. With CSA, your brain doesn’t generate signals to control the muscles that help you breathe, or those signals get disrupted so they never reach the muscles. 

Some people may have complex sleep apnea syndrome, in which they have both OSA and CSA. With either type of sleep apnea, you may stop breathing up to 400 times in a single night.   

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea often causes symptoms including:

  • Frequent loud snoring
  • Gasping for air while asleep
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Frequent headaches in the morning
  • Daytime drowsiness 
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability

You may not know about some of these symptoms until they’re reported by another person. For example, your partner may tell you that you toss and turn, stop breathing, or snore loudly during the night. 

What causes sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea has many possible causes, with the most common factor in OSA being extra weight. More than 70% of people who struggle with significant weight gain (100 pounds or more over ideal weight) experience OSA. A number of other factors can contribute to OSA, including family history, older age, being male, and having medical conditions like Type 2 diabetes. 

CSA has some of the same risk factors, including older age and being male. Specific CSA risk factors include a history of stroke, having congestive heart failure, and using opioid medications regularly. 

How is sleep apnea treated?

There are many treatment options for sleep apnea, but your SA Premier Internal Medicine provider may begin with lifestyle changes. Weight management, diet changes, exercise, and controlling your underlying conditions can all be very helpful in managing sleep apnea. 

You may need a special device to help you breathe during the night. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines or other methods of pressurized air delivery are very effective for many people with sleep apnea. If you have CSA, you may need supplemental oxygen at night. 

Alternatively, your provider may recommend an oral appliance, which is similar to a retainer that you wear at night to help position you for better breathing if you have OSA. 

Most people respond well to nonsurgical care for sleep apnea, but there are advanced surgical procedures for both OSA and CSA if initial treatments aren’t successful. 

If you suspect you have sleep apnea, call SA Premier Internal Medicine or click the provided link for help now.