Your Guide to Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that impacts your ability to breathe overnight. This is because OSA causes your throat muscles to collapse and block your airway while you sleep.

You’ll automatically wake up every time your flow of oxygen is cut off, sometimes without even realizing it. This pattern can repeat up to 30 times per hour, preventing you from receiving the quality rest you need.

Explore our guide to learn about the risk factors and symptoms of sleep apnea, in addition to our featured treatment solutions. 

 

man snoring from sleep apnea

 

How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea can lead to serious consequences without treatment, including weight gain, cardiovascular issues, and more. Visit a qualified sleep doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Loud, disruptive snoring
  • Choking or gasping for air overnight
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Lack of energy/motivation
  • Dry mouth, sore throat, and/or headaches in the morning
  • Short attention span/memory problems
  • Sudden mood shifts
  • Decreased libido

Testing for Sleep Apnea

The only way to determine if you have sleep apnea is to undergo a sleep test, either in a monitored setting or using a device that you take home. Once your test is complete, a qualified sleep specialist can evaluate your results and provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

My Airway

During normal sleep, the muscles
that control the tongue and
soft palate hold
the airway open.
When these muscles relax,
the airway narrows. This can lead
to snoring and
breathing difficulties.
If the muscles relax too much,
the airway can collapse and
become blocked,
obstructing your flow of oxygen.
   

Treatment Options

If your test shows that you suffer from sleep apnea, your doctor will likely recommend that you use a CPAP mask. Worn while you sleep, this device pumps a continuous flow of pressurized air into your lungs, keeping your airway open and allowing you to breathe without interruption.

CPAP is effective when used properly, but many patients find it too disruptive and stop using it. The most common complaints are that it’s uncomfortable to wear and makes too much noise.

For patients who feel this way, we can customize an oral appliance to relieve your snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms. Silent, comfortable, and easily portable, these appliances subtly shift your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open and prevent obstruction.

We’ll also recommend that you make some lifestyle changes to maintain your health. This can include eating a more balanced diet, exercising regularly, and more. If you’re overweight, shedding those extra pounds can make a noticeable difference in your symptoms.

Sleep Apnea FAQs

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects your breathing and well-being every night. A person’s breathing pattern is interrupted when they’re sleeping because of an obstruction in their throat.

These apnea episodes prevent them from getting a good night’s rest because they’re never able to fall into a deep sleep. Sufferers will wake up the next morning feeling excessively tired throughout the day.

There are three types of sleep apnea, obstructive, central, and complex. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) which occurs when the muscles in the throat relax and block a person’s airway. 

How is sleep apnea treated?

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. Sufferers wear a mask that fits over their nose and mouth and is attached to a machine that blows air through their nose, helping them breathe properly.

A popular CPAP alternative that we offer at our Hewitt office is an oral appliance therapy. This sports-like mouthguard is worn at night over the teeth and helps move the jaw forward to help clear the obstruction in the throat.

Additionally, there are different surgeries that can be performed to help alleviate sleep apnea or severe snoring, as well as certain lifestyle changes.

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

People of all ages may be at risk for sleep apnea, but there are some who have a greater risk. For example, men are typically found to suffer from sleep apnea than women, and older adults are more affected than young adults or children.

If you’re obese you may be at a greater risk of the disorder as well. You can also be more inclined to suffer from this sleep disorder if you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or have a family history of it.

What are the consequences of untreated sleep apnea?

When you don’t obtain quality sleep each night, it can have a great impact on your overall health and generate a wide variety of problems. Common consequences of untreated sleep apnea include:

  • Excessive drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Car accidents
  • Stroke
  • Decreased libido
  • Death

Visit Central Texas Dental Care for Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you fit any of the previously listed symptoms, it’s a good idea to take a sleep test and get a proper diagnosis. If you suffer from sleep apnea, neglecting to seek treatment can lead to devastating consequences for your health.

Contact our practice in Hewitt and schedule a consultation today.

young woman sleeping peacefully

 

 

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