Sleep apnea is a sleep breathing disorder that causes pauses in your breathing during sleep. There are three different subtypes of sleep apnea and the condition can range in severity. The severity is determined by how frequently your breathing stops throughout the night.
However, this is a very serious condition that can cause an array of unpleasant side effects as well as increase your risk for serious health conditions. Patients with sleep apnea stop breathing in their sleep and this can happen up to hundreds of times a night, causing an inability to get quality rest and feeling tired, irritable, and disoriented throughout the day.
Common symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, headaches, dry mouth, daytime fatigue, repeated awakenings throughout the night, gasping for air, mood swings, irritability, memory problems, and poor concentration.
The most common type that we see and treat is Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which is when enlarged tissues block your airway during sleep due to the relaxing of the muscles in your throat narrowing your airway.
The narrowed airway can be due to an abnormally narrow throat, an enlarged tongue, or enlarged tonsils. All of these conditions can result in tissues blocking your airway and preventing you from breathing.
Being overweight, smoking, and drug or alcohol use can increase your risk factor for sleep apnea. The next type is Central Sleep Apnea which only accounts for 10% of sleep apnea cases.
This is when you stop breathing in your sleep because of a lack of brain signals reaching the lungs telling them to contract so they don’t know to breathe. Finally, Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome is when a patient has a combination of Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea.
If you have central or complex sleep apnea, a CPAP machine is the gold standard treatment. You wear a nasal mask over your face that is hooked up to a machine that provides continuous and steady air pressure to your airway.
However, patients often complain about how noisy, uncomfortable, and claustrophobic they feel using a CPAP machine. If you sleep next to another person, it can even disrupt your partner’s sleep. An alternative treatment option is to wear an oral appliance that shifts your jaw to hold your airway open when you sleep.
This is fabricated from impressions that we take of your mouth. Lifestyle changes can also improve sleep apnea if you lose weight, quit smoking, and reduce your alcohol intake. An oral appliance is best to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. If you have a chronic case, you may require a CPAP machine.
Sleep apnea increases your blood pressure, prevents oxygen from reaching the brain, and prevents you from getting quality sleep. This is very risky because many sleep apnea sufferers are unaware of their condition and don’t even remember their repeated awakenings throughout the night.
The lack of sleep can cause you to doze off at the wheel while driving and get into an accident. In the long term, sleep apnea increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, heart attack, diabetes, and arrhythmias.
These conditions can take years off of your lifespan, which is why it’s so important to treat sleep apnea as soon as possible. A West Windsor dentist can help you get a diagnosis by assessing your symptoms, looking for signs of enlarged tissues on x-rays, and referring you to a sleep study.
If you think you might have sleep apnea, contact us at Smile Society General Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Munira Sulaiman or Dr. Mandeep Singh.
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