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10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

With more than 20 million people affected by sleep apnea in the United States, this issue has a significant impact on the health and sleeping patterns of many of our patients at our dental practice. Identifying and treating this condition is critical to ensure that you and your family are protected against the negative effects of sleep apnea for your short-term and long-term health.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three basic types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is most common and is caused by the partial collapse of throat muscles during the deep relaxation of sleep. Central sleep apnea has its roots in a dysfunction of the brain stem that can be congenital, caused by injury or brought on by illness. Finally, complex or mixed sleep apnea is diagnosed when patients show signs of both of the previous types. A sleep disorder specialist can diagnose sleep apnea issues for you and the other members of your family.

Risk Factors and Known Causes of Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea can happen to anyone, there are some risk factors that make it more likely that you will develop the condition. Your dentist may proactively recommend lifestyle changes to make sure you don’t develop symptoms or have you keep a close eye on your sleep if you are at high risk for developing any type of sleep apnea. Some of the most commonly reported risk factors for sleep apnea include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Being a male or a post-menopausal female
  • High blood pressure
  • Respiratory illnesses like asthma, emphysema and severe allergies
  • Narrow airways
  • Enlarged adenoid glands

10 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can manifest itself in a number of ways, some of which are listed below:

Choking or Gasping for Air at Night

If you frequently wake up gasping for breath or choking, you may have sleep apnea. When carbon dioxide levels rise inside your body because of lack of air, your body can often wake you up with a feeling that you need oxygen urgently.

Episodes of Stopped Breathing During the Night

Your spouse, significant other or family members may let you know that your breathing has stopped for as long as 10 seconds while you were sleeping.

Cases of Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is another side effect of sleep apnea and can cause serious dental and medical issues. Sleep apnea can also cause cases of sore throats in some patients.

Problems With Concentrating at Work or School

Lack of uninterrupted and restful sleep can affect your performance at work, at school and in all you do. Working to resolve issues with sleep apnea can have a significant positive effect on your ability to manage these tasks daily.

A Lower Sex Drive

If you are experiencing lower libido, sleep apnea could be playing a role in your brain chemistry and reducing your ability to want and to enjoy sex. In some cases, resolving this issue can help you get your sex life back to normal.

Significant Changes in Mood

Brain chemistry changes caused by sleep apnea can also have an impact on your emotional responses and your ability to handle stress. Treating sleep apnea could help you enjoy greater emotional stability and an increased ability to cope with everyday challenges.

Increased Risk of High Blood Pressure

People with sleep apnea are also more likely to have high blood pressure. The correlation between these two conditions has been established. The reason for that correlation, however, is not yet known.

Fatigue During the Day

It is fairly obvious that a lack of restful sleep at night can lead to sleepiness and fatigue during the day. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to the overall deterioration of your health.

Snoring Loudly or Frequently

Snoring can be more than an annoyance for other people in your home. It can also be a warning sign that you have sleep apnea and that you should treat this condition promptly to prevent further health issues.

Morning Headaches

Headaches that occur primarily in the morning after you wake up can be signs that you are not getting enough rest because of sleep apnea. Making an appointment for diagnostic tests with a sleep disorder expert or with your regular doctor will often help you to deal with this condition in the most practical and positive way possible.

What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?

If you are currently experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be time for a visit to your primary care provider to get a diagnosis of your condition. If you have sleep apnea and it is not treated properly, you could suffer side effects or complications from lack of oxygen in your bloodstream while you sleep. Additionally, sleep apnea has been linked with several medical and psychological issues that could have a long-term impact on your overall state of health.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend that you visit our office to be fitted for an oral appliance that will help to prevent the closure of airways during your sleep. Our dental team can provide you with practical options for addressing obstructive sleep apnea and for keeping your throat muscles from relaxing fully and presenting risks to your ability to sleep peacefully at night.

In severe cases, a continuous positive airway pressure machine, more commonly referred to as a CPAP machine, may be the best solution for you. Your doctor will typically provide you with the guidance and support you need to address sleep apnea more effectively.

Where Can You Get Help for Sleep Apnea?

At our dental practice, we offer a full array of services designed to help you keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright. Our goal is to help our patients with sleep apnea achieve the best sleep and the most effective treatment for this condition. Give us a call today to discuss your ongoing dental care needs or to touch base with our team of dentists. At our office, we are always here to serve you.

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