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10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Knowing the signs of sleep apnea can help you and your family to manage this serious condition more easily. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing stops briefly during sleep. The episodes of stopped breathing could last for 10 seconds or even longer. Sleep apnea is believed to affect as many as 22 million Americans and can have a real impact on your emotional and physical health. At our dental office, we can help you manage some types of sleep apnea with advanced dental solutions designed just for you.

Types of Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea (CSA) can be caused by injuries to the brain stem, congenital physical issues or certain medical conditions. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the respiratory system, resulting in a brief or prolonged failure to breathe during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common form of the condition and affects men in a higher percentage than women. OSA is characterized by a partial collapse of the throat muscles during deep relaxation, which causes the airway to close to some degree. This can result in a buildup of carbon dioxide in the blood and explosive gasping when that buildup becomes significant enough to send signals to the brain.

Mixed or complex forms of sleep apnea combine the symptoms and characteristics of both OSA and CSA. Treatment plans for these types of sleep apnea are typically fairly aggressive.

Risk Factors and Known Causes of Sleep Apnea

While sleep apnea can happen to anyone, there are factors that make an individual more likely to develop the condition in the first place. Some of the common risk factors for developing sleep apnea include the following traits and characteristics:

  • Obesity and excess weight
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Chronic congestion of nasal passages
  • Being a man
  • Increasing age for women
  • Asthma and other respiratory ailments

Patients who have one or more of these risk factors should consult with their physician to make sure that they are managing their risk of sleep apnea. Sleep studies may be required to determine whether this condition is having an impact on your general health.

10 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

If you’re not sure if you have sleep apnea, watching for these 10 signs that you or a family member may have sleep apnea will typically allow you to deal with this condition in the most appropriate way possible.

Decreased Sex Drive

Some patients with sleep apnea may experience a reduction in sexual desire because of a lack of sleep, fatigue or chemical changes in the brain caused by sleep deprivation.

Soreness in the Throat or Dry Mouth

Gasping for breath or working to draw in air can lead to sore throats and dry mouth symptoms that can lead to real discomfort for some of our patients.

Changes in Mood or Emotional States

Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect the chemical balance in the brain, which can make it much more difficult to manage your emotions and to deal with daily stress.

Cases of High Blood Pressure

Patients with sleep apnea suffer from high blood pressure at an increased rate, although it is not known which of these conditions is responsible for the other.

Morning Headaches

Lack of sleep because of sleep apnea can cause severe headaches during the first few hours after you wake up. Low oxygen levels in the bloodstream is what tends to cause these symptoms or exhaustion as well.

A Sensation of Smothering When Waking at Night

Because sleep apnea cuts off oxygen to your body, you may wake up suddenly with a sense of smothering or choking. Many patients with sleep apnea may gasp for air or may panic when awakening from an episode of sleep apnea.

Snoring

Snoring may seem harmless, if a bit annoying. In fact, it can also be a sign that you have sleep apnea and that you are frequently experiencing a cessation of breathing during the night.

Stopping Breathing in Your Sleep

If a friend, loved one or partner tells you that you often stop breathing during the night, you should schedule a diagnostic appointment with your doctor or with a specialist to determine if sleep apnea is responsible for this condition.

Sleepiness or Chronic Fatigue

If you are not getting the sleep you need at night because of sleep apnea, you will typically experience sleepiness and fatigue during the day. This can lead to a reduced ability to take on daily tasks effectively.

An Inability to Focus or to Concentrate

Sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your performance in school or at work by reducing your ability to focus or to concentrate. This can make a big difference in your grades and work evaluations if not corrected promptly.

What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?

Lack of oxygen to the brain is probably the most significant danger associated with sleep apnea. In some severe cases, brain damage or a failure to start breathing again could cause severe injury to patients who do not have a treatment plan in place. However, sleep apnea can cause a host of other health issues and interfer with your daily life. You’re at higher risk for increasing the severity of existing conditions such as high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are often used to reduce the number of sleep apnea episodes in patients with severe cases of the condition. These machines are worn during sleep and provide a steady supply of pressurized air to keep patients breathing evenly and reliably during the night.

At our dental practice, we can create customized dental appliances that will help in managing issues with OSA. Our team has the experience and the expertise necessary to produce the best results for you and your family members.

Where Can You Get Help for Sleep Apnea?

If you need professional help from our dental team to address issues with sleep apnea, give our office a call today. We will be happy to work with you to help you sleep more comfortably and to provide solutions for all your current and future dental care needs.

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