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What's Causing My Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes you to involuntarily stop breathing while sleeping. It could be the reason for your snoring and fatigue in the morning. This condition affects millions of people, including 26% of adults between ages 30-70. There are a few types of sleep apnea, and the complications from it can range from mild to life-threatening. The key for you to manage sleep apnea is to better understand the underlying causes and how to deal with them.

Patients in the Warren, Ohio area looking for relief from sleep apnea can count on Dr. Amy Caicco, Dr. Ana Chester, and the capable staff at Chester Family Dentistry.

How does sleep apnea affect your breathing?

There are three types of sleep apnea, and they each affect breathing in a different way:

Obstructive sleep apnea

This is the most common type, and it happens when the throat muscles relax at times when you sleep. The tissue causes a blockage in the airway, which stops you from breathing. 

Central sleep apnea

This less common variation happens when your brain doesn’t send signals to the muscles that control breathing. This causes your breathing to repeatedly stop and start while sleeping.

Complex sleep apnea syndrome

Also referred to as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this happens if you’re dealing with both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

Loud snoring is a common symptom, though snoring doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. Other symptoms include gasping for air while sleeping, insomnia, hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness), irritability, and fatigue.

What can cause sleep apnea?

Causes can vary, depending on the type of sleep apnea you’re dealing with. With obstructive sleep apnea, obesity, a narrow airway, smoking, alcohol, nasal congestion, and using sedatives can all lead to its development. Men are more likely to have it, and conditions like diabetes, heart failure, and Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk. The risk also increases as you age.

Central sleep apnea can be caused by congestive heart failure, stroke, and narcotic pain medications (especially long-acting narcotics). Men are also more likely to get this type, and the risk increases as you get older. A stroke can also cause complex sleep apnea syndrome.

Sleep apnea means lack of consistent sleep at night, which means daytime fatigue and possible lack of sleep for loved ones if you’re snoring loudly. Dealing with any form of sleep apnea also means an increased risk in high blood pressure, heart problems, diabetes, and liver problems.  

How is sleep apnea treated?

In mild cases, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to manage sleep apnea, such as weight loss, quitting smoking, and allergy medications if you have nasal allergies. If the condition is moderate or worse, there are devices to help open blocked airways. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device is a common solution, but supplemental oxygen while sleeping and adaptive servo ventilation (ASV) devices are also used.

Surgery is only used when all other methods fail. Surgeries can be used to reposition the jaw, and to shrink or remove tissue. Implants and nerve stimulation are other common surgical methods, but a tracheostomy, which creates a new airway, is only used for life-threatening conditions.

So if you’re dealing with sleep apnea, there are options for treatment. Call Chester Family Dentistry at 330-331-9026 to schedule an appointment, or make an appointment online today.

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