Sleep Apnea Specialist

Sharisse Stephenson, MD -  - Neurologist

Neurological Associates of North Texas

Sharisse Stephenson, MD

Neurologist located in Abilene, TX & Dallas, TX

Most people don’t know they have sleep apnea until someone complains about their loud snoring. Whether you snore or have unexplained daily fatigue, it’s essential to schedule an evaluation with Sharisse Stephenson, MD, at Neurological Associates of North Texas, so you can get treatment and prevent serious complications caused by sleep apnea such as high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias. To schedule an appointment, call one of the offices in Abilene or Dallas, Texas, or use the online booking feature.

Sleep Apnea Q & A

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

When you have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer while you sleep. These episodes occur repeatedly, ranging from five times an hour in mild cases to 30 times or more an hour if you have severe apnea.

OSA develops when soft tissues in your mouth, especially your tongue, fall toward the back of your throat and cover the airway. When the airway is partially covered, you snore; when it’s blocked, you temporarily stop breathing.

When you stop breathing, oxygen levels in your blood quickly drop. This alerts your brain, which then wakes you up just enough to breathe again. You usually don’t fully awaken to breathe, so you’re not aware you have OSA.

What symptoms develop due to sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea causes symptoms such as:

  • Loud snoring
  • Fatigue throughout the day
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A morning headache
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom during the night
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or a sore throat

Loud snoring is one of the most common symptoms in patients with OSA. Other people in your household may notice a cycle of loud snoring, sudden silence when you stop breathing, followed by a gasp or snort when you start breathing again.

How is sleep apnea treated?

The only way to diagnose OSA is with a sleep study. When you see Dr. Stephenson, you don’t need to worry about being sent to an overnight sleep study in a lab. She treats her own patients by ordering a home sleep study.

During a home sleep study, you’ll wear:

  • A sensor on your finger to measure oxygen levels
  • An elastic band around your chest to measure breathing (chest movement)
  • A nasal cannula to measure airflow through your nose

A small portable monitor collects information from the sensors. Then Dr. Stephenson evaluates the data to determine whether you have OSA and the severity of the problem.

How is sleep apnea treated?

Your treatment depends on the severity of your OSA. If you have mild OSA and you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can effectively eliminate your apnea. For moderate to severe cases, Dr. Stephenson may recommend continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) or an oral appliance.

CPAP delivers air through a mask, which creates enough pressure to keep your airway open. An oral appliance holds your jaw and tongue in a more forward position so your tongue can’t cover the airway.

To receive customized treatment for sleep apnea, call Neurological Associates of North Texas or book an appointment online.