Breathing problems that affect sleeping

breathing problems

The connection between pulmonology and sleep medicine is not always obvious to patients.  Pulmonology is the medical specialty that deals with respiratory health. If you are having issues breathing, your doctor may refer you to see a pulmonologist. We will evaluate your lung function and check for signs of asthma, COPD, and lung disease.

Sleep medicine is devoted to sleep health. What is that, exactly? The field of sleep medicine has exploded in recent years. More and more doctors are recognizing the impact that sleep has on overall health, and many physicians are getting subspecialty certified to treat sleep disorders.

When you see a sleep specialist, you will likely need to participate in a sleep study, which records your sleep patterns and helps the doctor diagnose problems like sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a breathing-related sleep disorder. Therefore, sleep apnea is often treated by pulmonologists as well as sleep specialists. Sleep apnea is characterized by a blockage that makes you stop breathing when you are asleep. It may be caused by a physical blockage, as is the case with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), or a nervous system dysfunction, as in central sleep apnea (CSA). To learn more about the different types of sleep apnea, check out this recent post on our blog.

Sleep apnea is not the only breathing disorder that can affect sleep. If you are struggling with a condition such as COPD, you know first-hand how chest pain and coughing cause sleep disturbances. If you have COPD and sleep apnea, you are most likely experiencing more severe symptoms than someone who does not have COPD. Fatigue is commonly associated with COPD and sleep apnea due to the reduction of blood oxygen levels during sleep.

Snoring and groaning are also considered breathing-related sleep disorders, although these are probably more likely to cause sleep disturbances for your partner. Loud, irregular snoring may be an indication of sleep apnea and should be evaluated without delay.

Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your sleep quality. You might need to modify your sleep position or use a humidifier. If allergies are a trigger, you might try allergen-free bedding. If it is sleep apnea that is impacting your sleep, CPAP therapy will be beneficial. Your doctor may suggest other ways to find relief so you can get your ZZZs.

Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine Institute has multiple locations in the Chicago area (Crystal Lake and South Barrington). Contact us if you’d like to schedule an appointment.

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