Sleep apnea is a condition that is common as well as dangerous. When you have sleep apnea, you stop breathing while you sleep. The pauses are only temporary, but they frequently occur throughout the night. Because of this, the quality of your sleep is disrupted, leaving you susceptible to serious side effects. If you have sleep apnea, Fern Creek Dentistry can help.
The Most Common Form of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea, also simply called OSA, affects millions of Americans. Those with OSA experience interruptions in their breathing because their airway becomes blocked. However, what causes the blockages? They are typically caused either by the tongue sliding back or by excess tissue near the back of the throat. When the airway becomes blocked, you stop breathing. When this happens, you wake up just enough to restart your breathing, but not enough to wake up completely. Because of this, you most likely don’t even know that you have a problem in the first place. All you know is that you are always extremely tired.
What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?
The most common symptom of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness. You wake up tired, and this exhaustion carries throughout the whole day. Because of this, you are unable to function at your best. Exhaustion from sleep apnea can make it difficult to concentrate and focus on what you need to do. You might doze off at work or while driving, which can put your life, and the lives of others, at risk. You might wake up with headaches every morning. You may also have a sore or dry throat as a result of snoring, although you might not know you snore unless someone informs you.
What Risks are Involved with Untreated Sleep Apnea?
Chronic exhaustion isn’t the only issue that happens when you have sleep apnea. This condition can also have a substantial impact on your overall health as well. Those who suffer from sleep apnea can develop high blood pressure or hypertension. Your risk of heart attack and stroke increases. You are at a greater risk for developing Type II diabetes. The oxygen content in your blood decreases. You are also at a greater risk of suffering from depression.
What Treatments are Available for Sleep Apnea?
There are several different treatments for sleep apnea. For those with minor sleep apnea, lifestyle changes can help. These changes include losing weight, quitting smoking or alcohol consumption, or changing the position in which you sleep.
For mild to moderate sleep apnea, a C-PAP machine is often recommended. This is a machine that keeps a steady flow of air running into your nose, which then helps to keep your airway from collapsing. Another option for mild to moderate sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy. This treatment involves the use of a specially made device that is worn in your mouth as you sleep. The goal of the device is to keep your lower jaw forward, keeping it from sliding back. In doing so, the soft tissues are kept clear of your airway. Read more about oral appliance therapy.
In cases of severe sleep apnea, more drastic measures may need to be taken. For severe sleep apnea, or that cannot be dealt with using more conservative treatments, you may be recommended oral surgery. Surgical treatments range from removing excess tissue to moving your lower jaw forward.
If you suspect that you might have sleep apnea, a sleep study can help to provide you with a definitive diagnosis. We can then help to provide you with certain treatments to improve your sleep and protect your health. For more information call Fern Creek Dentistry at (704) 380-9555 today.