Are you drowsy during the day with no explanation? Do you snore loudly or wake up choking or gasping in the middle of the night? If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be one of more than 12 million Americans who are affected by sleep apnea.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which your breathing stops periodically during sleep, as many as 20-30 times per hour. Each time you stop breathing in your sleep, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. Since the time spent awake is so brief, most people with sleep apnea don't remember it. Many feel like they are getting a good night's sleep, when in fact, they are not. The constant wake-sleep, wake-sleep cycle prevents those with sleep apnea from achieving deep REM sleep, resulting in a constant drowsy feeling during the day.
What are the signs of sleep apnea?
The following symptoms can indicate the presence of sleep apnea. If you notice one or more of these, contact our practice.
- Insomnia or Difficulty Sleeping
- Loud Snoring at Night
- Waking Up At Night Short of Breath
- Snorting or Choking Sounds During the Night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches Upon Waking In The Morning
- Falling Asleep Unintentionally During the Day
- Extreme Drowsiness Throughout the Day
Are there different types of sleep apnea?
There are three categories of sleep apnea. The most common is called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and occurs due to a physical blockage, usually the collapsing of the soft tissue in the back of the throat. Less common is central sleep apnea (CSA), in which breathing stops because the muscles involved don't receive the proper signal from the brain. And some people suffer from "mixed" or "complex" sleep apnea, which is a combination of obstructive and central.
What are risk factors for sleep apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is most common in (40+) adult males than younger adults or children. However, anyone — regardless of gender or age — can suffer from sleep apnea. Other risk factors include obesity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, use of sedatives or tranquilizers, and family history. Central sleep apnea strikes most often in people with heart disorders, neuromuscular disorders, strokes, or brain tumors. It is also more common in males.
Is sleep apnea dangerous?
Sleep apnea is considered a serious medical problem and if left untreated can lead to high blood pressure, increasing the risk of heart failure and stroke. The ongoing state of fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to problems at work or school, as well as making driving a motor vehicle very dangerous. Sleep apnea can also cause complications with medications or surgery; sedation by anesthesia can be risky, as can lying flat in bed after an operation. If you know or suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, let your family doctor know before taking prescribed medication or having surgery.
How is sleep apnea treated?
Treatments for sleep apnea depend on the severity of each individual case, and the type of apnea. Basic treatment can be behavioral — for instance, patients are instructed to lose weight, stop smoking, or sleep on their sides instead of on their backs or bellies. Beyond that, oral devices can be used to position the mouth in such a way that prevents throat blockage. In more severe cases, surgery may be the only solution. We treat the Obstructive Sleep Apnea here at Advanced Aesthetics Dentistry. We have another web site dealing with this topic. ( CapitalDistrictSleeps.com ). Call now to schedule your consultation, (518) 399-9462.
What should I do if I suspect that someone in my family suffers from sleep apnea?
Contact our practice and we will give you a Free Complimentary Consultation. The doctor may recommend a "sleep study" to measure the magnitude of the problem and prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on the patient's situation, treatment may involve an oral device that will be customized to fit YOU.