Sleep Apnea: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Sleep Apnea: Types, Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Mar 10, 2021

Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder where a patient’s breathing suddenly stops and starts repeatedly. It’s mostly characterized by loud snoring and happens when someone doesn’t take in enough oxygen, causing them to gasp and wake up.

These sleep interruptions usually last for about 10 to 20 seconds and can happen about 5 to 100 times in an hour. While it’s a common condition, sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that shouldn’t be ignored. Besides leaving you more tired even after sleeping for long hours, if left untreated, sleep apnea can trigger serious health problems such as:

  • Mental health issues
  • Poor immune function
  • Increased risk of heart failure
  • Memory loss

Fortunately, sleep apnea is treatable. If you suspect that you may have sleep apnea, you should seek medical attention. You can contact Greenlake Dental for a sleep apnea screening.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea 

You may have slept apnea if you experience the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Repeatedly morning headaches
  • Gasping for air when sleeping
  • Hypersomnia – excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Irritability
  • Episodes of breathing interruptions
  • Insomnia – difficult staying asleep
  • Difficulty concentrating while awake
  • Dry mouth in the morning

While you may experience one or two of the symptoms we’ve outlined above, it’s not always that you have sleep apnea. But to be safe, you should talk to your doctor for further advice.

Causes of Sleep Apnea 

Usually, there three main types of sleep apnea, namely:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea – happens when the throat muscles relax
  • Central sleep apnea – happens when the brain sends wrong signals to the muscles that aids in breathing
  • Complex sleep apnea – happens when a patient suffers from both obstructive and central sleep apnea

 Other Risk Factors That Can Contribute to Sleep Apnea Include:

  • Excess weight or obesity
  • Neck circumference – individuals with thick necks tend to have a borrower airway
  • Gender – males are two to three times more prone to sleep apnea
  • A narrowed airway
  • Old age
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Smoking
  • Nasal congestion
  • Use of sedatives, alcohol, or tranquilizers
  • Serious medical condition such as heart failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, lung diseases, and more

 Sleep Apnea Treatment 

For mild cases of sleep apnea, your doctor will most likely recommend lifestyle changes, such as: 

  • Maintaining a healthy weight – Obesity can increase airway complications. Losing weight will significantly reduce the number of breathing episodes and open up your throat & airways.
  • Doing yoga – Since sleep apnea is associated with reduced oxygen saturation in the blood, yoga can enhance your respiratory strength and increase oxygen flow.
  • Changing your sleep position – Changing your sleep position can reduce sleep apnea symptoms. If possible, you should sleep on your side.
  • Exercising – Aerobics can help to strengthen the muscles in the airways, thus improving breathing.
  • Avoiding smoking, anti-anxiety medication, and alcohol – these can cause the throat muscles to relax, interfere with your breathing.

If lifestyle changes don’t treat or improve the signs of sleep apnea, your doctor can recommend the following treatments:

  • CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) – Here, a CPAP machine delivers steady air pressure through a mask as you sleep to keep the airway passages open. If you don’t find relief, your doctor can recommend other airway pressure devices such as Auto-CPAP, BPAP, and Adaptive servo-ventilation (ASV).
  • Oral Appliances – Wearing an oral appliance can prevent your tongue from falling back and blocking your airways. Consult with our dentist for oral appliance treatment. If you’re looking for a qualified dentist in 98013, Greenlake Dental can get you the help you need.
  • Treatment for an underlying medical condition – If your sleep apnea is caused by other diseases or conditions like nasal allergies, your doctor may prescribe medication for that.


If lifestyle remedies and therapies fail, surgery is recommended as a last resort. Your doctor will offer more information regarding the type of surgery that you’re likely to undergo. However, surgery is very rare and only happens under severe cases of sleep apnea.

Final Verdict 

If diagnosed and treated early, sleep apnea won’t pose any adverse health conditions. In fact, most individuals who suffer from sleep apnea usually treat or ease symptoms with lifestyle changes.

At Greenlake Dental, we can provide you with a sleep apnea screening. If it appears that you may have sleep apnea, we’ll refer you to a sleep specialist to get a diagnosis for treatment. We offer oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea patients.

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