Obstructive sleep apnea is a frightening and potentially dangerous condition that affects up to 39 million American adults. The disorder happens when a patient repeatedly starts and stops breathing during sleep.
The most well-known symptom of the disorder is loud snoring that may disturb a patient's partner or family. However, snoring is not the only symptom.
This blog will discuss the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea and answer patients' questions about how they can find relief from their condition.
Symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Loud snoring that may disrupt family members' sleep
- Observed episodes of stopped breathing at night
- Waking with a dry mouth
- Waking with a headache
- Daytime sleepiness
- Depression or mood swings
Causes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea may happen when the airway is blocked during sleep. The patient's throat or airway muscles may relax too much during sleep, or the tongue may collapse backward and block the airway. Excess tissue in the throat that may present with obesity is another common cause.
Potential Complications of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can lead to many serious medical complications. Breathing episodes may lead to a lack of oxygen at night, causing chronic stress.
Researchers associate obstructive sleep apnea with coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, and heart attack. The condition may also increase instances of heart arrhythmias, which could dangerously lower blood pressure.
The simplest treatment option for sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy. The dentist custom-fits a device worn at night that keeps the patient's jaw in the optimal position to protect the airway from blockage.
Many patients have good luck with CPAP therapy. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. The treatment involves wearing a breathing mask at night that provides a constant stream of air and prevents airway collapse.
If patients experience persistent symptoms, surgical treatment to reduce excess tissue may also help.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea
How can I stop sleep apnea?
The first step in recovering from sleep apnea is to make an appointment with your dentist or primary care physician. Dentists and primary care physicians work together to diagnose and treat this dangerous condition.
Your primary care doctor may order a sleep study to provide a definitive diagnosis. Your dentist may provide a minimally invasive oral appliance; if that works, you may not need more intensive treatment.
What happens if sleep apnea goes untreated?
If you continue to try to get by without sleep apnea treatment, you could severely endanger your overall health. Sleep apnea and heart problems have a strong association.
Call Dental Associates
If you exhibit any of the symptoms above, you may be experiencing sleep apnea. Visiting a dentist or physician as soon as possible can help you resolve your symptoms and get a good night's rest.
Please call our Farmington, CT, office at 860-677-8666 to schedule an appointment. You can also request an appointment through our website.