What Is Sleep Apnea? Here’s What You Should Know

Nov 01, 2020

Do you wake up in the morning feeling as though you have a sore throat? Or are you exceptionally fatigued during the day? The chances are that you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a medical condition that is characterized by an interruption in breathing while you are sleeping.

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder in the U.S. Nearly 9% of the adults in America have sleep apnea, although many cases haven’t been diagnosed yet. This is because you might experience the symptoms during your sleep and not notice them.

Sleep apnea is also linked with other health issues such as heart disease and diabetes, hence why you need to seek sleep apnea treatment at Rifle Dental Care if you suspect that you have this sleep disorder.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

In layman’s terms, sleep apnea is characterized by abnormal breathing during sleep. People suffering from this disorder experience several extended pauses during their sleep. You might stop breathing close to a hundred times in one night.

These breathing lapses lower the quality of your sleep and affect your body’s and brain’s supply of oxygen. This can lead to severe health consequences.

Then, when the airways open up during sleep, you might take a deep breath, snort, or wake up with a sensation of choking, smothering, or gasping.

Types of Sleep Apnea

There are three main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, your airway becomes physically blocked at the back of the throat.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA). This happens if your brain’s system for controlling the muscles responsible for respiration has a problem, leading to shallower and slower breathing.
  • Mixed sleep apnea. This happens when you have both OSA and CSA. It is also referred to as complex sleep apnea syndrome.

Are You at Risk?

Sleep apnea can affect both children and adults. It also cuts across gender, but it is more prevalent in men.
Factors that increase the risk of getting obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Neck circumference (17 inches or more for men and 16 inches and more for women)
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and congestive heart failure
  • Use of sedatives, alcohol, and tranquilizers
  • Narrowed airways
  • Being male
  • Being over 40 years

For central sleep apnea, some of the risk factors include:

  • Being male
  • Being over 40 years
  • Stroke
  • Heart disorders
  • Using narcotic pain medications

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

All three sleep apnea symptoms have the same symptoms, such as:

  • Excessive fatigue or daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Limited attention span
  • Morning headaches
  • Morning sore throat or dry mouth
  • Loud snoring
  • Insomnia or recurrent awakenings
  • Restless sleep
  • Occasionally waking up with a sensation of choking or gasping
  • Jaw pain
  • Low libido or erectile dysfunction
  • Frequent need to wake up and urinate

Always bear in mind that you might not be aware of the breathing interruptions while you are asleep. The only way you can be certain is if you have a bed mate or family member who can notice the interruptions. The only symptoms you might be aware of can be the morning sore throat or dry mouth and daytime fatigue.

What Treatments Are Available?

The cause and level of sleep apnea will determine the method of treatment. The purpose of treatment is to help you breathe normally during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea treatment may include:

Lifestyle Changes

With mild sleep apnea, our dentist may recommend the following home remedies:

  • Stop smoking
  • Weight loss
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Get treatment for nasal allergies
  • Side sleeping

Other Therapies

Other than the home remedies, our dentist may employ the use of the following oral appliances:

  • Mandibular advancement device (MAD). This device looks like a mouthguard. It snaps over your bottom and top teeth. The device has hinges, which allow your lower jaw to ease forward. This means that your tongue and soft palate are stable so that your airway remains open while you are asleep.
  • Tongue retaining device. This device is like a splint designed to hold your tongue in place so that your airway remains open.
  • Surgery is also an option if your throat is too narrow. This can happen if you have enlarged tonsils, a deviated septum, or a small jaw with an overbite.

Sleep apnea has far-reaching effects on your emotional, physical, and psychological effects than you might know. This is why you need to contact our dentist if you suspect that you have sleep apnea.

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