Understanding Sleep Apnea


Sleeping WomanDo you wake up in the morning feeling just as tired as when you went to bed at night? You may be suffering from sleep apnea. Here’s what you should know:

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where a person experiences sudden interruptions in breathing repeatedly throughout the night. Some patients with sleep apnea could temporarily stop breathing hundreds of times each night. In addition to a stoppage in breathing, this triggers the brain to wake up. Most patients with sleep apnea don’t remember waking up repeatedly throughout the night, but the brain is still being temporarily jarred into that awake state.

Most cases of sleep apnea would be classified as obstructive sleep apnea. This occurs when something blocks your airway while you’re sleeping. This could be the tongue, tonsils, or tissue in the throat.

What signs should you watch for?

Signs of sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up to a gasping or choking sensation
  • Loud snoring
  • Headaches in the mornings
  • Irritability, forgetfulness, and exhaustion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Sleepiness while driving
  • Trouble focusing at work

If you notice any of these signs, you should contact your doctor.

What other problems are associated with sleep apnea?

In addition to making day-to-day life pretty miserable, sleep apnea can have devastating long-term consequences. Some serious problems associated with sleep apnea include strokes, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.

It is important to treat sleep apnea as quickly as possible so that it doesn’t interfere with your job, make you an unsafe driver, or lead to a stroke or a deadly heart condition. Contact your doctor or your dentist if you think you might have sleep apnea.

Treatment Options

There are a variety of treatment options available that can restore your health and energy. The treatment necessary will depend on your specific situation. Some treatments include:

  • Tonsillectomy to remove the obstruction in the throat
  • Weight loss to reduce the mass of the airway
  • Change in sleeping position
  • Corrective surgery
  • Use of a CPAP machine to keep air flowing into the body
  • Custom oral devices that keep the airway open

If you’d like to learn more about sleep apnea and the treatment options available, schedule a consultation at Royal Dental.

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