How do I know if I have sleep apnea?

Feeling overtired after sleeping for eight hours? Snoring excessively and/or making frequent trips to the bathroom during the night could be an indication that you're suffering from sleep apnea.

According to Paul Sweeney, President of Coastal Sleep, which operates six diagnostic and testing clinics in the Lower Mainland, sleep apnea should be taken very seriously.

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"Sleep apnea can cause you to stop breathing for a short period, resulting in a drop of oxygen levels in your blood stream" Paul explains. "If left untreated, the drop in oxygen levels can be attributed to cardiovascular issues, hypertension, diabetes, and even stroke."

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by a loss of the muscle tone that keeps the airway open, resulting in the tongue and tissue falling back and blocking the airway. A common misconception is that sleep apnea is caused by being overweight; while obesity can be one cause of the condition, it's not the only one.

"At Coastal Sleep, we treat a lot of slim patients who suffer from sleep apnea because of an anatomical issue with their throat," Paul notes. "Some people have a really short jaw and therefore a crowded throat. Or they have large tonsils and redundant tissue."

The most obvious indicators of sleep apnea such as tiredness and snoring are usually noticed by potential patients themselves or by their partners. Paul and his team of Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) and Nurses at Coastal Sleep look at these symptoms in conjunction with existing medical conditions.

"There are other related issues such as headaches in the morning, or a feeling of heartburn," Paul explains. "But when we're screening patients, symptoms are just one part of the puzzle. If a patient has other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or previous heart failure, they're at a higher risk for sleep apnea."

For more information about sleep apnea symptoms call Coastal Sleep at 1.877.241.9066, visit their website or send them an email. There is a Coastal Sleep facility located at 602-13737 96th Avenue, Surrey. Coastal Sleep can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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