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Long Wharf Dental Group
1 Long Wharf Drive, Suite #221, New Haven, CT 06511

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10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is prevalent in the U.S.; in fact, it’s almost as common as type II diabetes. The American Sleep Apnea Association says 22 million Americans have the sleep disorder. It can have can have significant consequences, yet most people who have it remain undiagnosed. Learning more about the symptoms can help you determine if you or someone you love may have sleep apnea so you can look into getting a sleep test.

How Many Forms of Sleep Apnea Are There?

There are three distinct forms of sleep apnea, including:

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a serious sleep disorder where a person cannot breathe for 10 to 20 seconds while they are sleeping. The soft tissues in the back of their throat collapse, fully or partially blocking the airway. When the body realizes the oxygen level is too low, it wakes the person up very briefly, just long enough to start breathing again. Individuals rarely remember waking up, so they don’t realize how often their sleep is interrupted.

Central sleep apnea is different. A problem with a person’s brain or heart stops breathing temporarily during sleep. There’s no blockage like there is with OSA. CSA is usually caused by an injury or illness affecting the brain stem.

Complex or mixed sleep apnea is a combination of OSA and CSA. It’s usually found once OSA is treated and breathing is still interrupted.

What Are the Typical Risk Factors for OSA?

While anyone can develop obstructive sleep apnea, some people are more susceptible, including:

  • People over 40: Age decreases the body’s ability to keep the upper airway muscles stiff during sleep.
  • Males: Men are twice as likely to receive an OSA diagnosis.
  • Overweight individuals: 70 percent of adults with OSA are obese.
  • Genetics: Someone with a family history of OSA
  • Individuals with large tonsils.
  • Individuals with narrow airways.
  • Smokers: Smokers have a much greater risk of developing OSA.
  • Substance abuse: Using tranquilizers or alcohol before bedtime may cause the throat muscles to relax

What Sleep Apnea Symptoms Should I Watch For?

  1. Excessive daytime sleepiness, you feel sleepy even after being in bed for eight hours or more. You may wonder why your sleep isn’t as refreshing as it is for other people.
  2. Loud snoring that disturbs you or your partner’s sleep.
  3. Abruptly waking up choking or gasping for air.
  4. Waking up with a sore throat from mouth breathing.
  5. Morning headaches caused by a lack of oxygen during the night.
  6. Someone observes you stop breathing while sleeping.
  7. Trouble concentrating during the day, which can affect your performance at school or work.
  8. Irritability caused by fragmented sleep patterns, making it easy to fly off the handle unexpectedly.
  9. High blood pressure can cause sleep apnea, but it can also be made worse by sleep apnea. It’s important to visit your doctor for more information.
  10. Deceased sex drive caused by a drop in the hormones reulating intimacy and libido.

Why Do I Need Sleep Apnea Treatment?

OSA is more than annoying, loud snoring and feeling tired all day. It is a chronic disease which increases a person’s risk of developing serious conditions, including an abnormal heart rhythm, heart disease, Type II diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. Additionally, chronic daytime sleepiness is dangerous for drivers who may fall asleep at the wheel and have an accident or have slower reaction times. It’s especially important for commercial vehicle operators, such as truck drivers, to seek OSA treatment if they need it.

Unmanaged sleep apnea can also affect your personal relationships. If you normally sleep in the same bed with someone, that person could lose sleep because of your loud snoring. He or she may become irritable and grouchy from sleep deprivation. Untreated OSA with excessive daytime sleepiness can keep you from enjoying activities with family and friends. They may not understand why you are always too tired to participate in bicycle rides, hikes and other activities.

Do Dentists Offer Sleep Apnea Therapy?

There are several treatments available for mild, moderate and severe OSA. If your OSA is mild, talk to your healthcare professional about losing weight and changing your sleeping position. Discuss with your healthcare professional whether simple lifestyle changes might be enough to eliminate the symptoms and achieve better sleep quality.

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines provide continuous airflow to keep the airway open. The person with OSA wears a full facial mask, or sometimes just one that goes over their nose, which is connected to the CPAP machine by a hose. Long-term compliance with this therapy is only about 50 percent, with some people reporting feeling trapped or complaining the mask irritates their face.

At our dental practice, our experienced team offers oral appliances to treat OSA. The appliances are custom-made mouthpieces you wear while sleeping. They gently more your lower jaw forward, slightly opening the upper airway. Patients usually tolerate oral appliances better than CPAP machines, and they are convenient for travelers as you can slip the device in your pocket. You don’t have to plug a machine in, so they are easily portable. You can take your oral appliance to a hotel, a camping trip or other accommodation without worrying about finding an electrical outlet close enough to where you will be sleeping.

Where Can I find a Local Dentist for Oral Appliance Therapy?

Fortunately, you can call our local dentist’s office for a consultation and learn more about the convenient treatment for sleep apnea. We would enjoy explaining how you can manage your sleep apnea with an oral appliance so you can enjoy the restful night’s sleep you deserve and start enjoying a better quality of life.

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