How Can I Tell If I Have Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is an increasingly prevalent condition affecting 3-7% of men and 2-5% of women in the United States.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most typical presentation of the disorder. This condition happens when the airway becomes physically blocked during sleep.
Many people who have sleep apnea are unaware of it. However, many symptoms should be considered red flags. If you note any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, call your dentist or primary care physician to learn about diagnosis and treatment options.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
The following are symptoms that sleep apnea may cause:
- Loud snoring that may disrupt others’ rest
- Stopping and starting breathing during sleep
- Waking up with a dry mouth
- Morning headaches
- Daytime sleepiness
- Attention issues
Loved ones and family members often play a crucial role in getting sleep apnea patients the necessary medical care. Snoring, gasping, and pauses in breathing disturb family members and sleep partners at night, while the patient may not be aware it is happening.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea happens when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively. The muscles that support the tissues at the back of the mouth and throat fail to keep the airway open.
A narrowed airway leads to the patient receiving less oxygen than needed. The brain wakes the patient to breathe, making them gasp, snort, or choke.
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
While loud snoring is a common symptom of sleep apnea, not everyone with the condition always snores during sleep. If you are experiencing trouble sleeping or wake up tired and irritable, talk to your doctor about undergoing a sleep study and return to your dentist for treatment options.
Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea
When left untreated, the oxygen debt associated with sleep apnea can lead to these and other complications:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Liver problems
- Heart problems like atrial fibrillation and high blood pressure
- Irritability and being quick to anger
How Can Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea?
Dentists like the sleep experts at Dunedin Dental Associates can treat obstructive sleep apnea by prescribing custom oral appliances. Oral appliance therapy, or OSA, treats mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. Worn like a night guard or retainer, the oral appliance keeps the tongue and jaw in the correct positions during sleep. The airway stays open when the appliance holds the tongue in position and the jaw forward.
Call Dunedin Dental Associates
Most snoring is harmless, but there could be severe consequences if snoring comes from sleep apnea. If you believe you or your partner has sleep apnea symptoms, do not hesitate to call Dunedin Dental Associates at 727-734-3321. We can help you get the treatment you need.