Snoring can affect both genders and people of all ages, and usually worsens as we get older. Apart from disrupting the sleep of a partner, snoring can be a symptom of a serious disorder called Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).
It is believed that sleep apnea affects 25 million Americans. Many people do not know they have sleep apnea given it occurs while we sleep. Luckily, the dentists at Branches Dental know the issues related to sleep apnea, how to screen for it, and what steps can be taken to improve sleep and overall health.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep Apnea covers a multitude of conditions related to interrupted or blocked breathing habits during sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common example and is generally left undiagnosed. When we sleep the muscles of our throat relax and our tongue falls backwards; sometimes resulting in a blocked airway.
The result can be loud, disrupted breathing throughout the night. Numerous pauses can occur during this time, in which we have actually stopped breathing. Choking and audible gasps are our body’s way of telling us to breathe.
The interruption of rhythmic breathing while asleep will decrease oxygen flow to all organs, including the brain. This can presents a host of problems including poor sleep quality, increased risk of high blood pressure, fatigue, weight gain, and an increased risk of a stroke or heart attack.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is frequently self-diagnosed by its symptoms. A Polysomnogram (PSG) or a home sleep test can be used to monitor sleep habits and offer a diagnosis. Patient history and a physical examination are also taken into consideration.
Even without seeking professional advice, OSA is still identifiable. The most common symptoms include:
- Loud/Heavy snoring
- Gasping and choking during sleep
- Dry throat and mouth
- Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
- Headaches or Memory loss
- High blood pressure
Treatment of Sleep Apnea
Small changes to your daily routine like a shifted sleeping position, weight loss, and regular exercise can make an immediate difference.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines are nightly ventilators that assist with breathing for sleep apnea patients. These machines provide constant, low-pressured air through a mask into the nose and mouth. The pressurized air is enough to open the airways and maintain a constant breathing pattern.
For people that do not want or cannot tolerate a CPAP, oral appliance therapy may be an option. These devices are similar to mouth guards or retainers. They only need to be worn at night and generally bring your lower jaw and tongue forward to help prevent airway blockage. They can be titrated, or adjusted, until the optimal outcome is achieved.
Looking for Sleep Apnea Treatment
In Anna, TX?
Contact Dr. Thakkar at Branches Dental if you have concerns about your sleep or feel you may benefit from an oral appliance. Call (972) 924-0330 for a consultation, or visit us at 2100 West White Street, Suite 100, Anna, TX 75409. We look forward to meeting you!