The Beginner’s Guide to Sleep Apnea: Everything You Need to Know

The Beginner’s Guide to Sleep Apnea: Everything You Need to Know

Dec 01, 2020

Do you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth? Or are you just tired and sluggish throughout the day? If this describes your typical day, then you might have sleep apnea. It is a sleep disorder caused by an interruption in your breathing during sleep.

Believe it or not, it is a fairly common condition that affects many Americans. Over 9 percent of the American population has sleep apnea, and it is believed that many more have not yet been diagnosed. The reason for this is that it is difficult for you to notice the symptoms since they occur while you are sleeping.

Sleep apnea is a severe condition that needs immediate medical attention. It has been linked with other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Therefore, seeking sleep apnea treatment from our dentist in Seattle would be the wisest thing to do if you suspect you have the disorder.

Sleep Apnea, In a Nutshell

Typically, someone suffering from sleep apnea will have abnormal breathing while they are sleeping. They may experience extended pauses throughout the night, where they aren’t respiring. In fact, someone might stop respiring up to 100 times during one night.

The after-effects of interrupted respiration can lower your sleep quality and affect the brain’s supply of oxygen. Also, your organs can lack an adequate supply of oxygen, leading to other life-threatening conditions.

What happens is that the airways are blocked while you are sleeping, or the brain centers that control sleeping fail to work as they should. Then, when the airways open, you might snort, gasp for air, or even choke.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea can be classified according to the cause; therefore, there are three main types:

  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). When you have CSA, the part of the brain that controls the muscles that enable you to breathe has a problem, which causes the fluctuation in how you breathe.
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). With this type of sleep apnea, an obstruction in your airways causes it.
  • Mixed Sleep Apnea. This is when CSA and OSA overlap. This condition is also known as complex apnea syndrome.

Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea symptoms cut across all the three types, and they include:

  • Irritability
  • Loud snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Sore throat
  • Jaw pain
  • Frequent need to urinate during the night
  • Occasionally waking up to a sensation of gasping or choking
  • Dry mouth when you wake up
  • Excessive fatigue throughout the day
  • Poor concentration span
  • Insomnia or recurrent awakenings
  • Low libido
  • Morning headaches

The major issue is that these symptoms can mirror symptoms of other diseases. Therefore, it is very easy to brush them off. However, the only way for you to be sure is to have a bed mate or a family member who can alert you of the symptoms. Most probably, the only symptoms you might be aware of can be daytime fatigue, sore throat, and dry mouth.

Who Is at Risk?

Practically anyone can have this sleep disorder, including children. So, always peel your eyes for these symptoms; however, the condition affects men more than women and children. Here are some factors that can put you at risk:

  • Being over 40 years
  • Family history
  • Thick neck circumference (16 inches plus in women and 17 inches plus in men)
  • Being male
  • Excessive weight
  • Narrowed airways
  • Smoking
  • Medical conditions such as stroke, congestive heart failure, and diabetes
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives
  • Using narcotic pain medications
  • Recessed chin or a large overbite
  • If you have a small jaw, large tonsils, or large tongue
  • Menopause

Sleep Apnea Treatment

The severity and the cause will determine the course of treatment. The main aim is to try and normalize your respiration during sleep. OSA treatment may include the following:

Lifestyle Changes

If you have mild sleep apnea, our dentist may recommend any of the following lifestyle changes:

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

Other Treatments

If the above therapies do not succeed in treating the disorder, then our dentist may choose any of the following therapies:

  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. This entails utilizing a mask which continually provides positive pressure air to keep the airways open.
  • Oral appliances. These devices are designed to bring your jaw forward and therefore keep your mouth open. Others will hold your tongue so that your airway remains open.
  • Surgery. This is also an option if your airway is too narrow.

Sleep apnea can lead to other medical conditions that can cause life-threatening symptoms. You can contact us at Greenlake Dental if you suspect that you need sleep apnea treatment.

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