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Sleep Apnea

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Sleep Apnea Overview

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder caused by the t hroat intermittently collapsing during sleep, resulting in:

  • Decreased air to the lungs
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness

This disorder, often associated with loud nightly snoring, has been linked to higher rates of:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart attacks
  • Heart failure
  • Hypertension
  • Stroke

The UPMC Sleep Medicine Center offers patient-centered care for the best sleep possible.

Our doctors, leaders in the field of sleep medicine, are dedicated to providing the highest level of care possible and helping diagnose and treat a full spectrum of sleep disturbances and disorders, including sleep apnea.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care Medicine.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

To determine the best route for treatment, UPMC sleep medicine specialists will:

  • Ask about your symptoms
  • Evaluate your medical history
  • Perform a physical exam

Testing for sleep apnea

After completing an initial evaluation, we may recommend an overnight sleep study.

A sleep technician will apply sensors to your chest, abdomen, face, scalp, and legs. These sensors monitor brain waves to determine your stage of sleep.

While you sleep, the sensors also detect:

  • Eye movements
  • Heart rhythm
  • Airflow from the nose and mouth
  • Blood oxygen levels
  • Muscle activity

An audio-visual camera will monitor your body movements and position, and any snoring.

If necessary, evaluations may be performed in the home with monitors that measure breathing and oxygen levels alone, or movement as an indicator of wake versus sleep with a device worn on the wrist.

Learn more about preparing for a sleep study at the UPMC Sleep Medicine Center.

Sleep Apnea Treatments

After your initial consultation, UPMC sleep medicine specialists will work with you to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Treatment options for sleep apnea may include:

  • Positive pressure therapy
  • Oral appliance therapy
  • Medicine for daytime sleepiness
  • Recommendations for behavioral change
  • Bright light treatment
  • Recommendations for additional medical evaluation
  • Surgical referrals

Once laboratory testing has been performed, our specialists will review your diagnosis and treatment with you.

Successful management of sleep apnea may require ongoing care by a sleep specialist.