Sleep apnea affects nearly 1 in 4 people. If you have sleep apnea, you frequently stop breathing during sleep. These interruptions can prevent you from getting a peaceful night’s sleep and are not good for your heart.
Sleep medicine doctors at Allegheny Health Network (AHN) deliver effective care, including a broad range of treatments. Our services help you get restful sleep while preserving your well-being.
What happens when you have sleep apnea
If you have sleep apnea, the muscles in your throat relax too much during sleep, blocking the flow of oxygen. You may snore, snort, or gag to re-open the airway. But your heart then needs to work harder to “catch up” to send enough oxygen to the rest of your body. This process may happen repeatedly throughout the night.
Sleep apnea episodes may not wake you up, but they prevent you from getting restful sleep. And over time, the strain on your heart could lead to problems, such as an abnormal heart rhythm or stroke. If you already have health problems, like high blood pressure, sleep apnea can make them worse.
Sleep apnea care at Allegheny Health Network: Why choose us?
If you think you have sleep apnea or your bed partner notices you are snoring loudly, come see the sleep specialists at AHN. Our Center for Sleep Medicine offers sleep studies and physicians who provide personalized treatment recommendations.
Other highlights of our program include:
- Accurate diagnosis: We diagnose sleep apnea by monitoring brain and breathing activity while you sleep. Our sleep study facilities include the latest monitoring technologies. You get to sleep in a private room with a large bed and comfortable bed linens. Some of our patients say it’s like sleeping in a hotel room. We also offer home sleep tests, which allow us to monitor activity while you sleep in your own bed. Read more about diagnosing sleep disorders.
- Team approach: Many people get relief with the help of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If this treatment is not successful, we work alongside other AHN physicians, including sleep dentists and surgeons, to deliver other treatments. This approach helps us consider all aspects of your health when tailoring advanced treatments to your unique needs.
- Advanced treatments: We offer all the latest treatments, including hypoglossal nerve stimulation. This treatment is not widely available in western Pennsylvania. Hypoglossal nerve stimulation uses an implantable device to help airway muscles stay open while you sleep.
CPAP and BiPAP machines for sleep apnea
Sleep apnea treatment often includes sleeping with a machine that provides a steady air supply through a mask. There are two types:
- Continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP: With a CPAP, you breathe pressurized air. Pressurized air flows at higher-than-normal pressure to keep your airway open. CPAP is the most common form of sleep apnea treatment.
- Bi-level positive airway pressure, or BiPAP: This machine alternates between high-pressure and low-pressure air. A BiPAP may be right for you if you stop breathing at night, but your airway is open (central sleep apnea).
People are often nervous about using a CPAP or BiPAP. We make this process easier with one-on-one support from a respiratory therapist. Our therapist shows you how to use the machine and answers any questions you have.
We then stay in touch with you by phone and through follow-up appointments to address challenges you may be facing with your CPAP or BiPAP. For example, we may adjust the mask for a more comfortable fit. This additional support helps many people make a habit of using their machine and allows for the best possible results.
Other sleep apnea treatments
We offer other sleep apnea treatments, including:
- Dental devices: For mild symptoms, we work with sleep dentists to create custom devices that keep your jaw open while you sleep. The device reduces snoring and allows oxygen to move freely in and out of your airway.
- Hypoglossal nerve stimulation: This implantable device sends gentle pulses of electricity to your airway to keep muscles from collapsing. We implant the device during a short outpatient procedure.
- Surgical treatment: If other treatments fail to bring relief, we may recommend surgery to reshape tissue in or near your airway. There are many types of procedures. We will recommend the option that best meets your needs. Find out more about oral and maxillofacial surgery.