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Posted on: November 12, 2020
10 Signs of Sleep Apnea
According to health organizations, about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. This medical condition causes an individual to stop normal breathing while the patient is asleep. Seeking treatment immediately for this issue can prevent serious complications and can allow you to enjoy a restful night’s sleep and improved health now and in the future.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three basic types of sleep apnea, any of which can cause serious issues for the patients we see at our dental office:
- Central sleep apnea is caused by issues with brain function. People who have experienced a brain injury or who have Parkinson’s disease or other disorders are at higher risk of central sleep apnea.
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this disorder and is generally caused by throat muscles that relax too fully during sleep. This can cause the throat to close, which will typically result in a temporary stop in breathing and can make more work for the muscles of your chest. Obstructive sleep apnea affects men more frequently than women and can result in up to 30 episodes in a single hour of sleep.
- Complex sleep apnea, also referred to as mixed sleep apnea, produces symptoms that resemble both those of obstructive and of central sleep apnea. The precise causes of this mix of symptoms has not yet been identified by medical researchers.
Risk Factors and Known Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can affect both adults and children. Certain risk factors can increase the risk of sleep apnea among the patients we see at our dental office:
- Smoking is a major factor in many cases of sleep apnea.
- Obese or overweight people are at greater risk of contracting this condition.
- Chronic congestion is often seen in people who have moderate to severe sleep apnea. The link between the two conditions is not known, but may be because both conditions have to do with impeded airways.
- Men are at much higher risk for sleep apnea than women.
- People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop this condition.
- Asthma, enlarged adenoid glands and narrow airways are also major risk factors for patients.
10 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea
These 10 symptoms are often indications that you may have sleep apnea. Read the list carefully and make sure to make an appointment with your dentist right away if you believe you may have sleep apnea.
Sleepiness or Fatigue
Most people with sleep apnea report feeling tired or sleepy on a regular basis. Because sleep apnea interrupts your sleep repeatedly, it can be difficult to get the rest you need at night.
Choking or Gasping for Breath That Wakes You
Gasping or choking that wakes you up from sleep is typically a warning sign of sleep apnea. This is often the first sign of the disorder for people who live and sleep alone.
Waking up with a headache is a common symptom of sleep apnea. This typically is caused by lack of sleep or by low oxygen levels experienced during the night.
Problems in Focusing or Concentrating
Lack of restful sleep can often cause difficulties in concentrating on tasks during the day. This can lead to poor performance at work or at school.
Reduced Interest in Sex
Many patients with sleep apnea report that they have lower levels of sexual desire that could be associated with this issue. This may be due to exhaustion or to physical factors that can reduce libido in some people.
Some patients with sleep apnea may experiences changes in their brain structure and in the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. This can make it more difficult to manage stress and to regulate your emotions.
High Blood Pressure
Because sleep apnea affects the levels of some chemicals in the brain, it can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure for some patients.
Snoring, especially loud or erratic snoring, is often a sign of sleep apnea. Consulting with your physician and our dental team to determine the cause of your snoring is a good first step toward addressing this issue effectively.
Sleep apnea can cause dryness inside the mouth and sore throats that can make you feel less comfortable and that can affect your overall state of health.
Observed Episodes Where You Stop Breathing Briefly
If your significant other or your family members have told you that you have stopped breathing on occasion during the night, finding a solution for your sleep apnea is critical to prevent serious side effects that can result from lack of oxygen reaching your brain and the rest of your body during the night.
What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?
The pauses in breathing caused by sleep apnea can result in a dangerous lack of oxygen and buildup of carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. Some of the most common side effects and complications of untreated sleep apnea include sleep deprivation, worsening of other medical conditions and damage caused by lack of oxygen for prolonged periods. Seeking a medical diagnosis and treatment plan for sleep apnea is essential to protect your health and long-term well-being.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
For patients with obstructive sleep apnea, a few medical and dental treatment options are available. Some of the most common sleep apnea treatments include the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine or the fitting of a specialized dental appliance. CPAP machines are designed to deliver oxygen to the lungs through a pressurized system that will ensure uninterrupted breathing. Our team can create dental appliances designed specifically to keep airways open during the night to help you get a better night’s sleep.
Get Help for Sleep Apnea
At our dental practice, we work with you to find the best solutions for sleep apnea and all your dental care needs. We are committed to the highest standards of excellence in the field of dentistry. Give us a call today to schedule your first appointment. We look forward to the opportunity to serve you.