Sleep Apnea

Pulmonology Group LLC

Pulmonology, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine Specialists located in Las Vegas Area, Henderson, NV & Bullhead City, AZ

Sleep apnea is known to affect about 9% of women and 24% of men, but there’s a bigger concern: Up to 80% of all cases of moderate or severe sleep apnea go undiagnosed, putting many people at risk for serious problems like high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias. Vikas Sayal, MD, FCCP, at Pulmonology Group LLC Lung Specialist provides the equipment for a home sleep study, which detects sleep apnea, so you can get treatment and stay healthy. To schedule an appointment, call the office in Henderson, Nevada, or book an appointment online.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What causes sleep apnea?

When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer while you sleep. These apnea episodes occur repeatedly, ranging from five times an hour in the mildest cases to 30 times or more an hour in severe cases.

As you sleep, the muscles that support the soft tissues in your mouth relax. This allows your tongue, soft palate, and uvula to fall toward the back of your throat, covering the airway where your mouth and nose meet.

When the airway is partially covered by soft tissues, the air you breathe in makes them vibrate, which causes snoring. However, when it’s completely covered, air can’t get through to your lungs, and you have an apnea episode.

Without air, oxygen levels in your blood rapidly drop. This alerts your brain, which wakes you up so that you begin to breathe again. However, you don’t usually come to full consciousness, so you’re not aware that you have sleep apnea.

What increases my risk of sleep apnea?

Any condition that makes your body work harder to breathe increases your risk for sleep apnea. For example, reduced lung volume, overweight (excess fat in soft tissues surrounding your airway), blocked nasal passageways, or a smaller-than-average airway are all conditions that increase pressure when you breathe and forces soft tissues toward the airway.

What symptoms might I develop with sleep apnea?

Everyone who snores does not have sleep apnea. However, most people who have sleep apnea snore, often quite loudly. You’ll experience symptoms such as:

  • Loud snoring
  • Tiredness when you wake
  • Fatigue during the day
  • Hard time concentrating
  • Morning headache
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat 

In most cases, your partner or someone in the house will notice loud snoring, a silent pause when you stop breathing, then a gasping or choking sound when you take a breath.

Is sleep apnea dangerous for my health?

Untreated sleep apnea poses several serious threats to your health, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat)
  • Cardiovascular disease and heart failure
  • Insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes
  • Problems with memory and cognition (due to disrupted sleep)

Every time you stop breathing, the drop in oxygen and the subsequent increase in chest pressure make your heart rate drop and blood vessels narrow. Over time, this leads to cardiovascular problems.

How is sleep apnea diagnosed?

The only way to diagnose sleep apnea is with a sleep study, called a polysomnogram. There are two types of sleep studies:

Home sleep study

When you participate in a home sleep study, Dr. Sayal provides the equipment, shows you how to use it, then you wear it while you sleep at home.

During your home sleep study you’ll wear:

  • A sensor placed over your finger to measure your pulse and oxygen levels
  • An elastic band around your chest to measure breathing via chest movement
  • Nasal cannulas in each nostril to measure air flow
  • A small portable monitor that collects the information from all the sensors

After wearing your equipment for a night, you return it to Pulmonology Group LLC Lung Specialist, then Dr. Sayal retrieves and evaluates the information. After determining whether you have sleep apnea, he prescribes appropriate treatment such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or a customized mouthpiece.

Overnight sleep study in a medical lab

When your sleep study is performed in a medical facility, you’re monitored by a trained technician and more information is obtained compared to a home sleep study. You’ll wear additional sensors that record brain waves, heart rate and rhythm, eye movements, and muscle movements in your chin and legs. Your snoring and movement throughout the night may also be recorded.

Dr. Sayal currently offers at-home sleep studies. If you have symptoms like daytime fatigue — or someone has mentioned your loud snoring — call Pulmonology Group LLC Lung Specialist or book an appointment online.