Your Guide to Sleep Apnea

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that impacts your ability to breathe overnight. OSA causes your throat muscles to collapse and block your airway while you sleep, leading to symptoms like loud snoring and gasping for air over the course of a night.

You’re body automatically wakes you every time the flow of oxygen is cut off, often without you even realizing your sleep is interrupted. This pattern can repeat itself up to 30 times each hour, preventing you from reaching states of deep sleep and receiving the quality rest you need.

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

 

man snoring from sleep apnea

 

How Do I Know if I Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea requires a sleep study to diagnose with certainty and too often goes unrecognized. It can lead to serious consequences without appropriate treatment, including weight gain, cardiovascular issues, increased risk of stroke, and more. Schedule an appointment with 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
  • Difficulty concentrating, 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 study, either in a monitored setting or using a device that you take home. During your study, indicators like your breathing activity, blood oxygenation level, heart rate, and more are recorded over the course of a night’s sleep. Once you complete your sleep study, a qualified specialist can evaluate your results and provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

Your Airway

During normal, unobstructed 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 your muscles relax too much,
the airway can collapse
and become blocked,
obstructing the 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 machine. These devices pumps a continuous flow of pressurized air into your lungs through a mask you wear during sleep. CPAP therapy reliably keeps the airway open, allowing you to breathe without interruption.

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

For patients with concerns like these, we provide customized oral appliances to relieve snoring and other sleep apnea symptoms. Silent, comfortable, and easily portable, these appliances gently shift your lower jaw forward to keep your airway open and prevent obstruction of your airway.

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

Sleep Apnea FAQs

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects your ability to breathe consistently while you rest. A person’s breathing pattern is interrupted while they’re sleeping because of an obstruction in their throat.

These apnea episodes prevent patients from getting a good night’s rest because they’re never able to reach states of deep sleep. Sufferers will often wake up the next morning feeling tired and unrested 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 a steady stream of air through their nose, keeping the airway open and helping them breathe properly.

Since CPAP therapy is sometimes disruptive, we offer oral appliances as an alternative at our Hewitt office. These mouthguards are worn at night over the teeth to shift the jaw forward and help prevent obstruction of the throat.

Additionally, there are surgeries that can be performed to help alleviate sleep apnea or severe snoring. Relief can also sometimes come from certain lifestyle changes and weight loss.

Who is at risk for sleep apnea?

People of any age can suffer from sleep apnea, but there are some who are at greater risk. For example, men are typically found to suffer from sleep apnea more 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 likely to suffer from this sleep disorder if you smoke, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, or have a family history of the disorder.

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’ve noticed any of the listed sleep apnea symptoms, it’s a good idea to undergo a sleep study and get a proper diagnosis. If you suffer from sleep apnea, neglecting to seek treatment can lead to serious consequences for your health. 

Don’t neglect the warning signs of sleep apnea, contact our practice in Hewitt and schedule your consultation today.

young woman sleeping peacefully

 

 

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