According to Dr. Naveed Fazlani, an estimated 25 percent of all adults stop breathing in their sleep every night. While for some individuals sleep apnea has become a simplified excuse for overbearing snoring, it can actually be a very serious disorder, according to Midwest Medical Group’s Dr. Naveed Fazlani. Sleep apnea is the obstruction of breathing during sleep, Dr. Fazlani explains, usually due to the small size of a person’s upper airway. Enlarged tonsils can also cause the issue, he adds, although this cause is usually more prevalent in children.
What causes sleep apnea? Dr. Fazlani points to studies that have found weight, gender, and genetics often play a part. Obese patients tend to suffer from sleep apnea more often, he reports, with a neck size greater than 17” in men and 16” in women being a factor. He also notes that sleep apnea is twice as common in men than women, especially among middle-aged patients. The genetic factor, Dr. Naveed Fazlani explains, is due to the small size of a patient’s upper airway, which is related to the shape of a patient’s face. The patient’s tongue may also be too big for his or her mouth, he explains. All of these elements are determined at birth, Dr. Fazlani says, which is why sleep apnea often appears in multiple family members.
Most patients learn they have sleep apnea from a bed partner or roommate, according to Dr. Naveed Fazlani. Excessive snoring, broken up by frequent incidents of gasping for air throughout the night, is usually a strong indication of sleep apnea, he says. Fatigue during the day is also a sign, but Dr. Fazlani cautions that many sleep apnea patients may not realize they are spending most of the night in unrestful sleep. In fact, he finds many patients who live alone may go years with undetected sleep apnea.
Testing for sleep apnea involves a lab-related sleep study under the watch of a qualified sleep study specialist, Dr. Fazlani says, and once a sleep study is complete, a specialist will review results and make a diagnosis. Home studies are also available for patients who do not have other sleep-related issues or illnesses that may interfere with results, notes Dr. Fazlani.
Several treatment options are available for sleep apnea patients, including a breathing mask, called a CPAP device, which opens up the obstructed area. Dental devices may also be prescribed in applicable cases. In more severe cases, surgery may be prescribed, Dr. Naveed Fazlani says, but these surgeries have a success rate of less than fifty percent.
Dr. Naveed Fazlani, board certified in internal medicine, is managing partner of Midwest Medical Group, a 14-physician group in Mt. Healthy, Ohio. Voted Physician of the Year in 2004, Dr. Naveed Fazlani specializes is dedicated to the health and well being of his patients. For more information, visit www.naveedfazlani.org