Have you noticed that you’re extremely tired or fatigued, even though you’ve slept for a sufficient number of hours? Do you struggle sleeping at night? If yes, you may have sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the airway and can cause interruptions in your breathing as you sleep. Custom-made oral appliances can help you deal with your sleep apnea so that you can breathe continuously while you sleep. Find out the effects of sleep apnea and how you can overcome them with this guide!
Types of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea has become a common diagnosis among many Americans, with more than 18 million adults suffering from it each year. While most of us will deal with some sort of sleep disruption during our lifetimes, chronic fatigue caused by sleep apnea affects a smaller percentage of the populace but can be serious. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterized by numerous interruptions or pauses in breathing during sleep. Those who have sleep apnea complain most about fatigue from fragmented sleep, but others suffer from extreme snoring, as well. The most common form of sleep apnea, named obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), is caused by obstructions in the airway when the throat relaxes and can lead to hundreds of interruptions to breathing each night. Central sleep apnea occurs whenever the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles so that breathing patterns can continue consistently. Obstructive sleep apnea is more common than central, but some patients have a combination of both, called complex sleep apnea syndrome. Whichever form of sleep apnea you have, it should be treated so that you can breathe easier and sleep better. Sleep apnea has been linked to many other health problems and can be life-threatening, so it’s important to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of it to begin a treatment plan.
Signs and Risk Factors
As mentioned, some of the first signs of sleep apnea are fatigue and excessive daytime sleepiness. Fatigue occurs whenever the body doesn’t receive the rest that it needs to function properly, and can be problematic when you’re trying to work, take care of kids or play athletics. Other signs of sleep apnea include frequent loud snoring, choking/gasping sensations during sleep, morning headaches, irritability, awakening with a dry throat and difficulty sleeping. Sleep apnea can also increase your likelihood of depression, sexual dysfunction and learning/memory abilities, which decreases functionality in many aspects of life. Serious complications, such as the development of Type 2 diabetes, liver problems and high blood pressure, can be the result of untreated sleep apnea. While these conditions don’t explicitly develop from sleep apnea, they can still be consequences of it without you even knowing.
Although many people develop sleep apnea due to unknown causes, there are certain risk factors that you should look out for that can help you identify where your sleep apnea is stemming from. Obesity is a common factor that puts patients at risk for sleep apnea as the fat deposits can block the airway while sleeping. Similarly, people with thicker necks tend to have narrower airways, which can easily be blocked. Men are more likely to develop sleep apnea than their female counterparts, and older patients struggle with it as they age. Heart disorders and a history of strokes puts you more at risk for sleep apnea, as well, though not every patient who suffers from these conditions will have a sleeping disorder.
Treatment For Sleep Apnea
If you are dealing with sleep apnea, hope is not lost. It can be extremely difficult to go day-by-day with extreme tiredness, headaches and the inability to stay asleep, but there are treatment options for you to diminish the effects of sleep apnea. The first thing that you should do if you think that you or a loved one has sleep apnea is to schedule an examination with your medical doctor. You will need to go through a series of tests and sleep studies to determine which type of sleep apnea you have and how serious it is. For your appointment, bring with you a record of your sleeping patterns, your fatigue levels and an updated list of the medications that you are currently taking. If you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the recommended treatment of choice is a CPAP machine. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure device) uses a mask that fits over the nose and mouth to blow air into the airway to help keep it open while you sleep. CPAPs are highly effective, and if it is prescribed to you by your doctor, it is very important for your health. For less serious cases, a custom-made oral appliance is used to prevent obstructions in your airway throughout the night. Similar to a mouth guard, these oral appliances are fit to your mouth and teeth, and should only be worn at night. Less common procedures to treat sleep apnea include dental appliances that reposition the lower jaw and tongue and upper airway surgery to remove any tissue in the nasal cavity. Your treatment plan should be reviewed by and recommended by your doctor to ensure that you’re using the best and safest option possible for your needs.
Change Your Life Today
If you or someone you know has trouble sleeping, call Mountain Aire Dentistry at (303) 731-7755 to schedule a consultation. Our staff is experienced with helping patients remedy the effects of sleep apnea and find rest and happiness again. Call today to change your life!