What Is Sleep Apnea and How Is It Treated?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that is typically overlooked. Most people tend to miss the symptoms, and this is what makes the condition dangerous. You might be shocked to find out that sleep apnea is quite a common condition in America. Research shows that nearly 50 million people suffer from sleep apnea in America. There is a high probability that the number is higher than that since most people do not even know if they have the condition.
Sleep apnea can easily slip under the radar, and you might mistake it for another disease or condition. If the condition is left untreated, it can have adverse health consequences.
However, we have a dentist who treats sleep apnea near you. But before we look at sleep apnea treatment, let’s get to know more about the condition.
Sleep Apnea 101
In a nutshell, sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder caused by an interruption of your breathing while you are asleep. You might stop breathing so often, even close to a hundred times during your sleep, and you might not notice. This means that your brain and body are oxygen-deprived.
What is even frightening is that you might not notice that you have stopped breathing. Then when your airway opens us, you might snort, take a deep breath, or wake up with a sensation of gasping, choking, or smothering.
Sleep apnea falls into two categories:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This is the most common type of sleep apnea. It is also known as restrictive sleep apnea. A blockage of your airways brings it about because the soft tissue at the back of your throat has collapsed.
- Central sleep apnea. This is different from obstructive sleep apnea in that your brain typically fails to signal your muscles to breathe due to the respiratory control center being unstable.
What Are Some of the Risk Factors?
Generally, sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. However, some of the risk factors associated with sleep apnea are:
- Being male
- Being overweight or obese
- If you are 40 years
- If you have a family history of sleep apnea
- Large overbite or recessed chin
- Nasal obstruction due to allergies, sinus problems, or a deviated septum
- If you have a large neck size over 17 inches in men and over 16 inches in women
- If you have a small jaw, a large tongue, or large tonsils
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
As mentioned earlier, you might not be aware of sleep apnea symptoms. However, someone else can be better placed since they can notice that you have stopped breathing.
Some of the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea that you should look out for are:
- Restless sleep or insomnia
- Loud snoring
- Morning headache
- Waking up several times during the night to urinate
- Daytime sleepiness
- Difficulty concentrating
- Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat
- Decreased libido or erectile dysfunction
Sleep Apnea Treatment
Peel your eyes for sleep apnea, especially if you know that you fall in the high-risk category. If this condition is left untreated, it can cause other severe health conditions such as heart failure, depression, headaches, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
The level and cause of sleep apnea determine the method of treatment. The whole purpose of treatment is to normalize your breathing.
If your sleep apnea is mild, then our dentist in Sorrento Valley may recommend the following lifestyle changes:
- Avoid alcohol
- Stop smoking
- Weight loss
- Side Sleeping
- Get treatment for allergies if you have nasal allergies
If the above options do not work or you have moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, then the following therapies are employed:
- Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. This is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. You use a mask to keep your airways open by constantly providing positive pressure air.
- Other airway pressure devices. These devices can be used if you have a problem using the CPAP machine. You can opt for devices that supply bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP).
- Oral Appliances for sleep apnea. These devices can be used to keep your airway open. The devices used can be the Moses Oral appliance and SomnoDent that work the same as bite guards. There are many devices in this category, which can be used to open your throat by bringing your jaw forward. Other appliances hold your tongue to keep your airway open.
Once our dentist gets the right appliance for you, you will need to visit our dentist often during the first year. These appliances are also covered in your insurance, so do not worry about the cost.
As already mentioned, sleep apnea can lead to severe life-threatening conditions. Since it’s treatable, you can schedule an appointment with our dentist at Scripps Poway Dental Care if you suspect that you have sleep apnea symptoms. We would love to help you out.