If you or a loved one is affected by sleep apnea, you are not alone. Over 18 million Americans suffer from this disorder. It is the disruption of your breathing while you are sleeping. When your breathing is disrupted, your brain and the rest of your body is not receiving oxygen; this can take a toll on your brain and your heart.
There are three types of sleep apnea. The first is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) that occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes, causing a blockage in the airway. Next is Central Sleep Apnea. With central sleep apnea, the airway is not blocked, but the brain doesn’t signal the muscles to breathe. Lastly is Mixed Sleep Apnea which is a combination of the two apneas.
Effects of Sleep Apnea
If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause the following health conditions:
- Heart failure (irregular heartbeats and heart attacks)
- High blood pressure
Sleep apnea can also affect your daily activities, performance, and memory.
Risk Factors and Symptoms
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Forgetfulness or memory loss
- Mood sings
- Lack of energy
- Sore or dry throat
- Loud snoring
Sleep apnea risk factors include:
- Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum
- Allergies or sinus problems
- A family history of sleep apnea
- Gastroesophageal reflux or GERD
- Individuals over 40
- Being male
- Having a neck size over 17 inches
Proper diagnosis for sleep apnea requires testing. The test is called a polysomnogram and is done in a sleep disorder center. A sleep disorder specialist will prepare you for the test by attaching electronic transmitters to your body. The transmitters will analyze your sleep patterns and determine if you have sleep apnea or some other type of sleeping disorder.
If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your doctor will discuss treatment options such as:
- Using a specially designed dental device that will help keep your airways open during sleep.
- A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) device. The device keeps your airways open so that you will have regular breathing and uninterrupted sleep.
- Surgery if you have sinus problems such as a deviated septum.
If you are experiencing sleep apnea symptoms and need to be diagnosed, contact our office today to schedule a consultation. We are here to help you with all of your dental concerns.