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Sleep Apnea

Southern ENT & Sinus Center

Otolaryngologists located in Birmingham, AL

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that interrupts breathing while you sleep and affects as many as 9% of adults in the United States. The experienced team of clinicians and physicians at Southern ENT & Sinus Center in Birmingham, Alabama, including D. Trent Lowery, MD, David Walters, MD, and Matthew Fort, MD, specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea. They also perform surgery for those with obstructive sleep apnea. To schedule a consultation, call the office or book online today.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that interrupts your normal breathing pattern while you sleep. With sleep apnea, your breathing may intermittently stop and then restart throughout the night.


There are three types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It occurs when the muscles that support respiration relax while you sleep, obstructing your respiration. 

Central sleep apnea

With central sleep apnea, your brain may not provide the right signals to your respiratory system while you sleep, causing your breathing to stop and start. 

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

If you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea, then you have complex sleep apnea syndrome. 

What are sleep apnea symptoms?

Though there are different types of sleep apnea, the symptoms are similar. With sleep apnea, you may experience:


  • Gasping for air while you sleep
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling fatigued during the day
  • Decrease in concentration
  • Irritability


Your sleep partner may also notice that you stop breathing at various times while you sleep or complain about your loud snoring. 


There are many serious medical conditions that can be associated with untreated sleep apnea including: high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, congestive heart failure and heart arrhythmias.


Sleep apnea is common, but many with the sleep disorder fail to seek medical help to get an appropriate diagnosis. If you or someone you love has symptoms of sleep apnea, the team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center can help.

What happens during a sleep apnea consultation?

The team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center takes a patient-centered approach to care and conducts personalized evaluations for sleep apnea.


During the exam, your provider asks detailed questions about your sleep and sleep habits, as well as your medical and family history. They may also ask to talk to your sleep partner for more information about what happens while you sleep if appropriate.


To determine the type of sleep apnea you have, your provider refers you to a sleep lab to conduct a sleep study. 


During the sleep study, you spend the night at a special lab where experienced sleep specialists use diagnostic tools to determine the cause of your sleep problem. 

How is sleep apnea treated?

The team at Southern ENT & Sinus Center develops customized treatment plans for sleep apnea based on type, the severity of symptoms, and medical history. Your treatment plan may include:


  • Smoking cessation
  • Allergy treatment
  • Weight loss


You may also benefit from continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy while you sleep. Southern ENT & Sinus Center does not provide CPAP machines but can help you get the services you need with the referral to the sleep lab.


For obstructive sleep apnea, the experienced otolaryngologists address the muscles or tissues that obstruct your breathing while you sleep. Surgical treatments may include tissue removal, tissue shrinkage, or jaw repositioning.


The doctors at Southern ENT & Sinus Center also specialize in upper airway stimulation for treatment of moderate to severe sleep apnea. The team has partnered with Inspire® to provide hypoglossal nerve stimulation as a treatment option when CPAP has failed. 


To learn more about sleep apnea and your treatment options, contact Southern ENT & Sinus Center by phone or book an appointment online today.