Everybody snores occasionally. But when frequent loud snoring or breathing problems such as gasping for breath occur during sleep, you may have a condition known as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea isn’t just an inconvenience. It’s a medical condition that requires attention. Left untreated, sleep apnea can interfere with your quality of life and lead to serious health problems.
At Chester Family Dentistry, we’re trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea. Here, we share some important information about this condition, which is much more than just snoring.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that occurs when you stop breathing while you sleep. It happens when your upper airways become blocked, causing airflow to slow down or stop.
These apnea moments of blocked airflow may last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. When your oxygen levels drop to a certain low point because of lack of air, your brain wakes you up so you start breathing again.
Sleep apnea has many possible causes, including obesity, large tonsils, endocrine or neuromuscular disorders, and heart or kidney failure. People who were born prematurely or who have certain types of genetic disorders may also have a higher risk of sleep apnea.
In addition, alcohol, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to sleep apnea risk.
A fatiguing situation
Because sleep apnea causes you to wake up many times per night, it can prevent you from feeling refreshed and rested the next day. Sleep apnea can interfere with your productivity and quality of life by making you tired and sluggish during the day.
In addition, it may cause you to wake up with a headache. You may have trouble concentrating or remembering or feel irritable or depressed.
Dangers of sleep apnea
Beyond compromising your quality of life, untreated sleep apnea could increase your risk of developing the following medical conditions:
- Cognitive problems
- Drowsy driving
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mood problems
- Weight gain/obesity
Treating sleep apnea
Sleep apnea is typically treated with a continuous positive airway pressure (C-PAP) device that facilitates normal breathing during sleep. A C-PAP device is a mask that fits over your nose and mouth; it’s attached to a machine that blows air into your airways to keep them open while you sleep so you don’t keep waking up.
However, not everyone can tolerate a C-PAP device. Here at Chester Family Dentistry, we can provide you with an alternative. We can custom fit you with a comfortable oral appliance that adjusts the position of your jaw to help keep your airway open while you sleep.
This device is similar to a mouthguard or retainer. It works by positioning your lower jaw and tongue in a way that makes it easier for you to breathe while you sleep. Patients like this device because it’s quieter, easier to wear, more portable, and more comfortable than a C-PAP device.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, or if you’ve already received a sleep apnea diagnosis and would like an alternative to the C-PAP device, call our office in Warren, Ohio, or book an appointment online today.