If you find it hard to stay awake during the day, it’s very likely you’re simply not getting enough rest at night, even though you may be in bed for eight hours or longer.
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a syndrome that’s common enough to get its own acronym: EDS. Researchers estimate that almost one of every five people suffers from EDS.
While your sleepiness may be the source of jokes in the office, EDS is no laughing matter when you’re behind the wheel. Is it hard to keep your eyes open when you’re driving? Have you drifted over the double yellow lines into the opposing lanes of traffic?
You’ve been lucky so far if that’s the case. The next time could result in tragedy for you, the driver you run into, and at least two families.
Nearly 40% of Americans have admitted that they actually fell asleep at the wheel in a 12-month period. EDS is a public health issue. One cause of EDS is a condition called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes your breathing to stop and start repeatedly. At Turnquest Surgical Solutions, we have two board-certified general and bariatric surgeons, Dexter Turnquest, MD, and Victoria Chang, MD, who treat many cases of sleep apnea.
When you breathe, you take in air through your nose and/or mouth. It goes down the back of your throat to your lungs and then reverses course.
If you have sleep apnea, your airway is blocked, so you end up gasping for air numerous times during the night — enough to bring you to the edge of consciousness briefly but repeatedly. You may not remember waking up.
You may be unable to catch your breath for a few seconds at a time to up to a minute. At that point, your brain takes over and your breathing resumes, but your airway may still not be fully open.
The tissues in your airway may vibrate, which is what you recognize as snoring. No wonder you feel sleepy during the day.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
If you or your partner notice any of the following symptoms, you may have sleep apnea:
- You snore loudly and repeatedly
- Your breath catches and you stop breathing
- You gasp for breath repeatedly during the night
- You have headaches in the morning
- You don’t feel rested when you wake up
- You’re unable to pay attention during the day
- You feel irritable during the day
What causes sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea has numerous causes. Being overweight or obese is a significant risk factor for sleep apnea, as is hypothyroidism. Even having large tonsils can cause sleep apnea because they can block your airway.
More than two-thirds of people with obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of the disorder, are obese. To get to the root cause of your sleep apnea, we ask you to undergo an overnight sleep study, normally in a laboratory.
Treatment of sleep apnea
The first line of treatment is use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
It’s a breathing device that helps keep your airway open during sleep.
If your sleep apnea is the result of obesity, losing weight is the obvious solution. If you’ve tried numerous times to lose weight but haven’t, we at Turnquest Surgical Solutions offer several surgical procedures that can help you reduce to a healthier weight.
If your tonsils are the problem, we can perform a tonsillectomy or alter your jaw position to enlarge your airway.
Call us at one of our two Houston, Texas, locations or request an appointment online for expert answers for your sleep apnea and other general and bariatric surgical questions and concerns.