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The 10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

According to medical experts, more than 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea in the United States alone. Finding the right solutions to this problem depends on a few factors, including what type of sleep apnea is diagnosed, the risk factors for patients and the degree of severity of this serious medical condition.

Types of Sleep Apnea

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed in cases when the throat muscles relax and partially collapse during sleep. Also known as OSA, this form of sleep apnea is the most reported and can cause your chest muscles to work harder than they should to keep your body oxygenated by forcing air into your lungs through these obstructions.
  2. Some cases of sleep apnea occur because of damage or dysfunction in the part of the brain that governs the unconscious process of breathing. Known as central sleep apnea or CSA, this category of sleep apnea generally occurs because of illnesses or injuries that affect the brain stem.
  3. Cases of sleep apnea that present symptoms of both OSA and CSA are known as mixed or complex sleep apnea. Your physician will typically provide you with some potential contributing factors that may have caused complex sleep apnea. It may be impossible to determine the underlying reasons for some cases of mixed sleep apnea.

Risk Factors and Known Causes of Sleep Apnea

Certain activities or physical traits may make it more likely that you will develop sleep apnea. Obesity, smoking and high blood pressure are often associated with a heightened risk of the condition. Men and post-menopausal women also have an increased chance of developing sleep apnea. People with congenitally narrow or blocked air passages, enlarged adenoids and respiratory illnesses like asthma are more likely to develop sleep apnea than those without these medical conditions. While children can also show symptoms of sleep apnea, it is more common in adults.

10 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

Knowing the warning signs of sleep apnea can help you get treatment for yourself or your family members before this medical condition causes serious harm.

Loud Snoring

Snoring, especially with long gaps between noises, is a common sign of sleep apnea. When combined with other symptoms of the condition, snoring can be a real wake-up call that you may be suffering from sleep apnea.

Sore Throats and Dry Mouth

Many patients with sleep apnea report a feeling of dryness in their mouths and throats upon awakening. Sleep apnea can often lead patients to sleep with their mouths open, which can result in these types of discomfort.

Headaches in the Morning

Oxygen deprivation caused by stoppages in breathing can lead to headaches and a feeling of heaviness in the morning for some patients.

Episodes of Stopped Breathing

For some of the patients we see in our dental office, the first hint of sleep apnea comes after a loved one, family member or friend lets the patient know he or she has stopped breathing for short periods during the night.

High Blood Pressure

Cases of high blood pressure are linked with sleep apnea, although the relationship is not fully understood by scientists at this time.

Fatigue and Sleepiness

Patients often report sleepiness and fatigue during the day caused by the interruptions to restful sleep caused by this medical condition.

Difficulty in Concentrating and Focusing

Sleep apnea can also lead to reductions in the ability to focus on the task at hand and to concentrate on difficult or challenging activities. Over time, sleep deprivation caused by sleep apnea can lead to a significant reduction in performance for those suffering from this illness.

Mood Changes

Lack of sleep caused by sleep apnea can also result in moodiness and overreaction to stress and emotional events. If you notice an increased frequency of significant mood swings for yourself or a member of your family, lack of restful sleep caused by sleep apnea could be the cause.

Choking Fits at Night

If you wake up choking or gasping for breath, you may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. Scheduling a visit with your doctor is essential to determine if sleep apnea is to blame for these episodes, which could have serious implications for your long-term health.

Decreased Libido

Patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea may have less interest in sexual activity and a reduced level of sexual desire.

What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?

Left untreated, sleep apnea can cause long-term sleep deprivation that can damage your overall state of health. If you already suffer from other medical conditions or risk factors, sleep apnea is likely to make these health problems worse. Over time, the oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can also have an impact on your brain function and could lead to serious complications for you and your family. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, it’s important to understand that you have options for treatment that don’t include invasive or expensive procedures. Call us today for more information.

What Are the Available Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea?

The first step in addressing sleep apnea is obtaining a professional diagnosis from your family doctor or a specialist in sleep disorders. Once you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, your physician may recommend one of the following treatment options:

CPAP is the common acronym for continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP machines are designed to make it easier to breathe by delivering pressurized air to your lungs throughout the night. CPAP treatments will usually reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes and will help you stay oxygenated during the evening hours.

Our dental office can also provide appliances that will prevent the collapse of airways during OSA episodes. These dental solutions can protect your health and can help you to feel more rested after a night of sleep.

Get Help for Sleep Apnea

If you need the latest and most practical solutions for sleep apnea, our dental practice can deliver the best options for you and your family. Give us a call today to make your first appointment with us. We look forward to the chance to serve you.

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