For years, Randolph Prudent wondered why he never felt rested, even after a full night’s sleep.
“I just could not understand why I always felt sluggish and tired, even after sleeping for seven or more hours,” said Prudent.
In addition to feeling fatigued, the Hiram resident began having what he called “death-like” hallucinations while he slept.
“I actually used to feel something separating from my body while I slept and could do nothing to stop it,” he said. “I would dream I was in a car crash or that I was running and my heart would suddenly stop. When I woke up, my heart would be pounding and I would be out of breath.”
Prudent decided it was time to talk to his doctor. After hearing his symptoms, the doctor sent Prudent to a sleep study, where he was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. About 25 percent of men and nearly 10 percent of women live with sleep apnea, which can cause sufferers to stop breathing for several seconds hundreds of times a night.
Prudent’s symptoms were common for sleep apnea: loud snoring, cessation of breathing during sleep, waking up abruptly and out of breath, and excessive daytime sleepiness. All snoring isn’t related to sleep apnea, but snoring loud enough to disturb the sleep of others and loud snoring punctuated by periods of silence are good reasons to visit a doctor.
Following the sleep study, Prudent was referred to a pulmonologist, a physician who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of diseases involving the lung and chest, who felt that surgery was his best option. Prudent was referred to the WellStar Snoring Program, overseen by Patrick Melder, M.D., an otolaryngologist with WellStar ENT Associates of North Georgia.
Unlike other programs in the Atlanta area, the WellStar Snoring Program offers a comprehensive approach to treatment for snoring and sleep apnea.
“Our team looks both at the medical and surgical options for our patients,” said Dr. Melder, “and also works with them on factors that could be contributing to their conditions, such as diet and exercise."
Many treatments for snoring can be done in a doctor’s office, with patients returning to work the next day. In Prudent’s case, which was considered to be severe, two surgeries were required. Though he was initially nervous about surgery, three months later, Prudent said he is thrilled with the results.
“I feel more rested and even more confident and aware,” Prudent said. “Now I even take naps and actually feel the benefit of them! I am amazed at how treatment can really improve a person’s quality of life.”
Dr. Melder stressed that although snoring might seem like a minor problem, if it affects daily life, it shouldn’t be ignored.
“Many patients feel that they will have to sleep in different rooms than their partners or wear breathing masks to sleep or even just feel fatigued for the rest of their lives, and that isn’t the case,” he said. “These are serious medical issues which shouldn’t be ignored. There are fairly simple treatments out there that can help these people get a good night’s sleep and improve their health.”
Dr. Melder recommends that anyone interested take a brief quiz — at
www.entassociatesof northgeorgia.com/sleep-apnea to help determine how significant their snoring is. WellStar ENT of North Georgia has offices in Hiram and Marietta. For more information, please call 770-793-7613.