Sleep Apnea Specialist

Houston Neurology & Sleep Diagnostic Center

Allen Chu, MD, PhD

Neuromuscular Medicine Specialist & Sleep Medicine Specialist located in Houston, TX & The Woodlands, TX

Many sleep disorders are rooted in a neurological condition. Central sleep apnea, for example, is due to a neurological malfunction. At Houston Neurology & Sleep Diagnostic Center in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, Allen Chu, MD, PhD, diagnoses and treats sleep apnea with customized treatment plans. Call or schedule an appointment online today.

Sleep Apnea

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing is interrupted while you sleep. When your breathing stops, you snore and snort, waking up momentarily to return to normal respiration. Three common types of sleep apnea can interfere with your sleep:

Obstructive sleep apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common type of the disorder, occurs when your throat muscles relax, and the soft tissues in the top of your throat and back of your mouth descend and block your airways.

Central sleep apnea

Central sleep apnea occurs when there is a problem with the signals from your brain to the muscles that control your breathing.

Complex sleep apnea

Complex sleep apnea occurs when you have both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea. You might also gasp for air or wake up with a dry mouth or morning headache. Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Insomnia (having trouble staying asleep through the night)

It’s essential to get treatment for sleep apnea as disrupted and low-quality sleep contributes to a wide range of other health problems, including high blood pressure and diabetes.

What causes sleep apnea?

A variety of factors contributes to sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea could be due to your brain failing to send signals to your breathing muscles or for the messages to be lost in your nervous system. Your risk of central sleep apnea increases if you have a history of stroke or heart disorders. Narcotic pain medication can also increase your chances of developing central sleep apnea.

Factors that contribute to obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity
  • A large neck circumference
  • Narrow airways
  • Smoking
  • Nasal congestion
  • Use of alcohol or other sedatives

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, although it’s more common in men and aging patients.

What are the treatment options for sleep apnea?

Dr. Chu begins your treatment with a comprehensive exam. He may also order a sleep study to monitor your breath while you rest. Once he understands your condition, he creates a customized treatment plan to reduce your sleep apnea so you can sleep soundly through the night.

Many patients benefit from a continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP sends a constant stream of air into your lungs while you sleep. The air holds your airways open and reduces your sleep apnea. Dr. Chu offers in-office CPAP consultations and fittings to help you find the most comfortable equipment.

Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, you may benefit from nerve stimulation, oral appliances, or surgery.

If you’re concerned about sleep apnea, call Houston Neurology & Sleep Diagnostic Center or make an appointment online today.