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10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is an incredibly common disorder that consists of a brief cessation of breathing while a person is asleep. In fact, over 22 million Americans are estimated to have sleep apnea. When left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a number of serious health concerns, causing your overall health to suffer. Knowing what the symptoms are can help you to know if you’re at risk of having the condition. Here’s some more information on sleep apnea and how your dentist can provide treatment for this issue.

The Three Types of Sleep Apnea

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is diagnosed when your throat muscles become overly relaxed during sleep, leading to a partial or complete blockage of your airways. This leads to the muscles in the chest having to work harder to force air through the blockage and into the lungs. While this process leads to a cessation in breathing for just a few seconds, those few seconds quickly add up. Some people experience approximately 30 pauses per hour of sleep.
  2. Central sleep apnea (CSA) is diagnosed when the cessation of respiration occurs due to the way that the brain functions. This commonly occurs in patients with brain injuries, or in those with illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.
  3. Mixed or complex sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA. It generally starts off as OSA but persists even after the obstruction is taken away.

The Causes and Risk Factors of Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea can happen to anyone no matter what their age it is important to note that some people are at an increased risk due to factors such as lifestyle choices, underlying medical issues and physical attributes. Those who are most likely to experience sleep apnea include:

  • Individuals who are overweight or obese.
  • People who smoke.
  • Those with chronic nasal congestion.
  • People with high blood pressure.
  • Men and postmenopausal women.
  • Patients with asthma, enlarged adenoids and naturally narrow airways.

The Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Symptoms for sleep apnea can vary according to the type of sleep apnea a patient is diagnosed with. You should seek out medical attention for your sleep issues if you experience any of the following symptoms:

1. Feeling excessively tired throughout the day
Since many patients with sleep apnea don’t remember waking up throughout the night, they often feel groggy and disoriented during the day and have no idea why.

2. Snoring
As the air fights to get past the blockage in the airway, it moves the muscles and tissues in the throat, causing a rattling noise. This leads to a person snoring.

3. Choking or gasping yourself awake
When you don’t get enough oxygen, your brain will trigger a gasping reflex.

4. Episodes of breathlessness while sleeping
If you sleep with someone else, he or she may have noticed that you have long pauses between some of your breaths throughout the night.

5. Dry mouth and/or sore throat
This unpleasant symptom is caused when a person sleeps with their mouth open all night long in order to attempt to get enough air.

6. Headaches in the morning
This is caused by a combination of a lack of oxygen and a lack of sleep.

7. Difficulty Concentrating
A poor night’s sleep will make it difficult for you to focus and concentrate throughout your day.

8. Decreased sex drive
Hormone shifts have been linked to sleep apnea. Many patients with the disorder appear to have a decrease in testosterone. This can drastically lower libido.

9. Changes in mood
Sleep apnea has also been shown to change the structure of the brain. It can also shift the levels of chemicals in charge of regulating your emotions. This can lead to you feeling irritable.

10. High blood pressure
High blood pressure can both cause sleep apnea and be caused by sleep apnea. This may be due to the frequent changes in blood oxygen levels.

The Importance of Getting Your Sleep Apnea Treated

Studies have shown that those who have sleep apnea may have pauses that last as long as 10 seconds. Sometimes these pauses last even longer. This leads to an increase in carbon dioxide present in the body. It also leads to a depletion of blood oxygen levels. The more often these pauses occur, the more likely it is that damage is being done to your body.

Not treating sleep apnea can lead to serious physical and mental health issues. A good night’s sleep is essential. It allows the body to rest and repair itself. If you have diabetes, high blood pressure or any other chronic health condition, it is important to note that sleep apnea can worsen the symptoms of your condition.

How a Local Dentist Treats Sleep Apnea

Getting diagnosed with sleep apnea consists of undergoing a sleep study. This study is done in your home or at a clinic. Once the study has been conducted, the data collected will be analyzed and a diagnosis will occur. If you receive a diagnosis of sleep apnea, a treatment plan will then be developed.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a popular method of sleep apnea treatment. It consists of a machine that pumps air through a face mask as you sleep. This ensures that you always receive an adequate amount of oxygen, even if you continue to have pauses in your breathing.

Another treatment method is oral appliance therapy. This consists of a custom-fitted device, much like a mouthguard, being worn at night while you sleep. This appliance will ensure that your airways remain unobstructed. This treatment method is popular with patients because it is less cumbersome and more portable than a CPAP machine.

Receive Treatment from a Compassionate Dental Professional

If you believe that you have sleep apnea, contact our team today. We can help you to come up with a plan that will allow you to have a good night’s sleep. It’s time you got the rest you need and deserve.

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