Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by interruptions and pauses in breathing while asleep. These interruptions are caused by obstructions in the airway, such as the tongue rolling back in the throat or collapsed tissues in the airway, and may occur dozens of times each night. Sleep apnea disorder causes your sleep to be fragmented and reduces the oxygen levels in your body. Many people with sleep apnea are unaware that they have sleep apnea, and in many cases, sleep apnea is first noticed by others who realize that something unusual is occurring in their loved one’s sleep patterns.
Common signs of sleep apnea include:
- Nightly or near nightly snoring (especially loud snoring)
- Choking, gasping, or snorting sounds during sleep
- Gasping or choking sensations during sleep
- Excessive daytime drowsiness (hypersomnia) regardless of the number of hours slept
- Long pauses in breathing
- Abrupt awakenings during the night accompanied by shortness of breath
- Headaches upon waking
- Dry mouth or sore throat upon waking
- Frequent visits to the bathroom throughout the night
- Poor, fitful, or restless sleep
- Depression, irritability, or moodiness
- Feeling out of breath upon waking
- Memory impairment and difficulty focusing
When untreated, sleep apnea can cause many problems for your health and wellbeing, ranging from daytime drowsiness and irritability to more serious medical concerns such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and liver problems. It can also pose a risk in your day-to-day life, as extreme drowsiness may lead to falling asleep at the wheel of your car or in other high-risk situations.
There are several treatments available for sleep apnea. If you suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea, our dentist may recommend oral appliance therapy, which consists of wearing a specialized mouth guard while asleep to keep your airways open. If your condition is more severe, surgical treatment may be required. Our dentist and team will work with you to find the best solution for your health needs.
For more information about sleep apnea treatment, please call or visit our office today. We are committed to helping you improve your health.