Dr. Kary G. Whitehead, Board Certified Sleep Medicine Specialist, with Meridian Medical Associates will be seeing patients at Winston Medical Clinic-Hospital Campus on the second Tuesday of each month.  You can schedule an appointment by calling 662-773-3503.  No walk-ins accepted; must have a scheduled appointment.  No doctor referral needed!

Signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:
•Excessive daytime sleepiness
•Loud snoring
•Observed episodes of breathing cessation during sleep
•Abrupt awakenings accompanied by gasping or choking
•Awakening with a dry mouth or sore throat
•Morning headache
•Difficulty concentrating during the day
•Experiencing mood changes, such as depression or irritability
•High blood pressure
•Nighttime sweating
•Decreased libido

Risk factors

Anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea. However, certain factors put you at increased risk, including:
•Excess weight. Around half the people with obstructive sleep apnea are overweight. Fat deposits around the upper airway may obstruct breathing.  However, not everyone with obstructive sleep apnea is overweight and vice versa. Thin people can develop the disorder, too.
•Narrowed airway. You may inherit naturally narrow airways. Or, your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, which can block your airway.
•High blood pressure (hypertension). Obstructive sleep apnea is relatively common in people with hypertension.
•Chronic nasal congestion. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs twice as often in those who have consistent nasal congestion at night, regardless of the cause. This may be due to narrowed airways.
•Smoking. People who smoke are more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea.
•Diabetes. Obstructive sleep apnea may be more common in people with diabetes.
•Sex. In general, men are twice as likely as women to have obstructive sleep apnea.
•A family history of sleep apnea. If you have family members with obstructive sleep apnea, you may be at increased risk.
•Asthma. Recent research has found an association between asthma and the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

Complications

Obstructive sleep apnea is considered a serious medical condition. Complications may include:
•Daytime fatigue and sleepiness. The repeated awakenings associated with obstructive sleep apnea make normal, restorative sleep impossible. People with obstructive sleep apnea often experience severe daytime drowsiness, fatigue and irritability. They may have difficulty concentrating and find themselves falling asleep at work, while watching TV or even when driving.  Children and young people with obstructive sleep apnea may do poorly in school and commonly have attention or behavior problems.
•Cardiovascular problems. Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels that occur during obstructive sleep apnea increase blood pressure and strain the cardiovascular system. Many people with obstructive sleep apnea develop high blood pressure (hypertension), which can increase the risk of heart disease.  The more severe the obstructive sleep apnea, the greater the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure and stroke. Men with obstructive sleep apnea appear to be at risk of heart failure, while women with obstructive sleep apnea don’t.  Obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). These abnormal rhythms can lower blood oxygen levels. If there’s underlying heart disease, these repeated multiple episodes of low blood oxygen could lead to sudden death from a cardiac event.
•Complications with medications and surgery. Obstructive sleep apnea also is a concern with certain medications and general anesthesia. These medications, such as sedatives, narcotic analgesics and general anesthetics, relax your upper airway and may worsen your obstructive sleep apnea.  If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you may experience worse breathing problems after major surgery, especially after being sedated and lying on your back. People with obstructive sleep apnea may be more prone to complications after surgery.  Before you have surgery, tell your doctor if you have obstructive sleep apnea or symptoms related to obstructive sleep apnea. If you have obstructive sleep apnea symptoms, your doctor may test you for obstructive sleep apnea prior to surgery.
•Eye problems. Some research has found a connection between obstructive sleep apnea and certain eye conditions, such as glaucoma. Eye complications can usually be treated.
•Sleep-deprived partners. Loud snoring can keep those around you from getting good rest and eventually disrupt your relationships. Some partners may even choose to sleep in another room. Many bed partners of people who snore are sleep deprived as well.  People with obstructive sleep apnea may also complain of memory problems, morning headaches, mood swings or feelings of depression, and a need to urinate frequently at night (nocturia).