Sleep Medicine Specialist
By John Turner, MD, FACP – Internal & Sleep Medicine
1. When is it time to see a sleep specialist?
Patients often come to see me for a sleep evaluation when sleepiness has been interfering with their normal daytime functioning. Examples include falling asleep at work, having a car accident or close call while driving, poor memory and/or concentration, and being too sleepy to enjoy the activities they used to enjoy. Oftentimes a spouse will bring a loved one in for evaluation because of loud snoring, or even worse – disturbing episodes of breathing pauses during sleep.
2. What is involved in a sleep study?
A sleep study is ordered when I suspect a patient has a disorder interfering with sleep quality. The results help best determine a strategy to help improve or resolve the sleep issue(s) the patient is facing. Common disorders interfering with sleep include sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, periodic limb movement disorder, and parasomnias (sleep walking and/or other actions while still sleeping). The patient is observed while sleeping for the presence of these disorders. Oftentimes, there is more than one disorder causing sleep disruption.
Testing for sleep pathology is much more accurately done in a sleep lab, and gives the best chance to determine if one or more sleep disorders are present. The sleep lab rooms are setup to mimic a bedroom as closely as possible. Sensors are placed on the patient to monitor breathing, oxygen levels, heart rhythm, leg movements, eye movements, and also scalp monitors are used to determine sleep stages.
Sleep labs have showers and restrooms, making it convenient for patients to be able get ready for work the next morning after the study with no interruption in their daily schedule. After the data has been compiled and the results are interpreted, I review the data with my patients and develop the best strategy moving forward.
3. What sleep disorder do you diagnose most?
In my practice, I frequently diagnose Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is quite prevalent and if untreated, is a potentially deadly disease. Recent data, published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, estimates the prevalence of OSA in American men and women 30 – 70 years old to be 26%. Just over 1 in 4 people are affected. OSA in adults occurs when the back of the tongue falls backward and chokes off the airway, greatly diminishing (hypopnea) or stopping breathing altogether (apnea). The oxygen levels in the blood drop, often quite low, and the patient is repetitively “bumped out” of restorative sleep in order to resume breathing. This disrupted, fragmented sleep often causes the patient to be sleepy, grumpy and to have poor memory and concentration during the daytime.
4. How is sleep apnea treated?
The most effective treatment to date and the treatment I primarily use for my OSA patients is CPAP therapy. CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) uses air pressure to keep the abnormally closed airway between the lungs, nose and mouth open. The machines have the masks are more comfortable than they have been in the past.
If you feel you or a loved one may needs to be evaluated for a sleep disorder call Dr. Turner for an appointment, 281.604.1300.
Learn more about Dr. Turner by reading his biography. Click Here