How are snoring and sleep apnea evaluated?

The evaluation process starts with a detailed medical history and physical examination. Patients may be asked about their sleep patterns, fatigue levels, and frequency of nighttime awakenings. The physical exam often includes assessing the throat, nasal passages, and neck to check for physical factors that contribute to snoring and sleep apnea.

Types of sleep apnea tests

To diagnose sleep apnea, we may recommend one or more of the following tests:

  • Home Sleep Apnea Testing (HSAT): A simplified breathing monitor that tracks breathing, oxygen levels, and breathing effort during sleep.
  • Nocturnal Polysomnography: An overnight sleep study that provides comprehensive data by monitoring heart, lung, and brain activity, breathing patterns, arm and leg movements, and blood oxygen levels while the patient sleeps.
  • Oximetry: A screening tool that records oxygen levels during sleep and can be used in conjunction with HSAT to confirm sleep apnea.

What causes snoring?

Several factors can contribute to snoring, including:

  • Anatomy of the mouth and sinuses: A low, thick, soft palate or enlarged tonsils can narrow the airway.
  • Alcohol consumption: Alcohol relaxes throat muscles, which can increase the likelihood of snoring.
  • Nasal problems: Chronic nasal congestion or a deviated septum can contribute to your snoring.
  • Sleep deprivation: Not getting enough sleep can lead to further throat relaxation.
  • Sleep position: Sleeping on your back can cause the tongue to move to the back of the throat, obstructing airflow.
  • Being overweight: Excess fatty tissue and poor muscle tone contribute to snoring.
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When is snoring sleep apnea?

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed during sleep. Sleep apnea is a more severe condition characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing throughout the night due to the collapse of the airway or improper signals from the brain. The most common form, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), is closely related to chronic snoring.

Treatments for chronic snoring

  • Oral appliances: Dental mouthpieces that help keep the airway open during sleep.
  • Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP): Although primarily for sleep apnea, it can also be effective for regular snoring.
  • Surgery: Procedures like Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Thermal Ablation Palatoplasty (TAP), tonsillectomy, and adenoidectomy are sometimes considered to increase the size of your airway.
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When to seek the help of Louisiana ENT Specialists

If snoring is accompanied by symptoms of sleep apnea, such as frequent breathing pauses during sleep or excessive daytime sleepiness, it’s crucial to see a doctor. However, even regular snoring can be disruptive and warrant medical advice, especially if it affects the sleep quality of the snorer or their bed partner.

Snoring occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is physically obstructed during sleep. Sleep apnea is a more severe condition characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing throughout the night due to the collapse of the airway or improper signals from the brain. The most common form, Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), is closely related to chronic snoring.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea and not everyone with sleep apnea snores. If you have concerns about any of these symptoms, a proper evaluation by a healthcare professional is recommended. The symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud snoring: Often the most noticeable symptom, particularly associated with obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Episodes of stopped breathing: As reported by another person, these episodes are characterized by pauses in breathing or gasping for air during sleep.
  • Abrupt awakenings with shortness of breath: Signaling a potential obstruction in breathing that wakes the person up.
  • Morning headaches: These are due to low oxygen levels or disrupted sleep patterns.
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue: Despite spending adequate time in bed, individuals may experience excessive drowsiness during the day.
  • Difficulty concentrating: Sleep apnea can impair cognitive function, leading to attention issues.
  • Irritability or mood swings: Lack of restorative sleep can affect emotional regulation.
  • Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat: Caused by breathing through the mouth during sleep.
  • Decreased libido: Due to hormonal changes and fatigue associated with disrupted sleep.
  • High blood pressure: Sleep apnea can contribute to hypertension due to the strain on the cardiovascular system.
  • Night sweats: This can occur due to the stress of struggling to breathe correctly.

What to expect

Undergoing an evaluation for snoring or sleep apnea is a non-invasive and patient-friendly experience. Home sleep tests offer the convenience of being in one’s own bed, while nocturnal polysomnography, though conducted in a sleep lab, is designed to be as comfortable as possible. Our staff is dedicated to ensuring patients feel at ease during the tests, explaining each step and answering any questions.

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Who is a candidate for evaluation?

Candidates for snoring and sleep apnea evaluation include those who:

  • Exhibit loud, chronic snoring
  • Experience choking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Have a high blood pressure diagnosis
  • Are overweight or have a large neck circumference
  • Have a family history of sleep apnea
  • Experience mood changes or trouble concentrating
  • Morning headaches, dry mouth, sore throat

Why choose us?

At Louisiana ENT Specialists, you’re choosing excellence in ENT care, a reputation we’ve proudly built and upheld for over 45 years. Our network, renowned and nationally recognized, extends across six locations in Louisiana, providing unparalleled access to top-tier ENT services. With over 25 expert physicians and specialists on staff, we bring world-class medical and surgical care to every patient, regardless of age.

Louisiana ENT is not just a healthcare provider; we’re a cornerstone of the Louisiana medical community, consistently expanding our reach and enhancing our services to meet and exceed the evolving healthcare needs of our patients. Our commitment to offering comprehensive care is evident in our ability to provide every ENT specialty within our facilities. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that when you come to us, you have access to the full array of ENT treatments, from the simplest procedures to the most complex surgeries, all under one roof.

Our seasoned team, equipped with the latest technology and driven by a patient-first philosophy, is dedicated to delivering personalized care to help resolve heavy snoring and sleep apnea. By selecting Louisiana ENT, you’re not just receiving treatment; you’re gaining a partner who will stand with you on your journey to better health.

With 6 convenient locations around the Louisiana area, we're never far away.

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