What actually happens during sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a common condition that millions of people suffer from, but many don’t even know it. While people may deal with symptoms of sleep apnea, including fatigue, grogginess, brain fog, or dry mouth, they often don’t realize the true cause of it. Because of this, sleep apnea often goes untreated.

Sleep apnea occurs when an individual briefly stops breathing during their sleep. It’s as serious as it sounds and often causes the individual to jolt awake to start breathing again. This can happen multiple times over the course of the night, severely reducing the quality of their sleep.

There are several types of sleep apnea that cause the same effect. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and is caused by the throat muscles relaxing and closing during sleep. There is also central sleep apnea, which is a nerve issue where the brain can’t send proper signals to the muscles in the throat.

Dangers of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

This isn’t just about feeling tired throughout the day. Sleep apnea has a variety of potentially serious complications. Because the individual stops breathing, their blood oxygen levels drop. This puts additional stress on the cardiovascular system, leading to long-term blood pressure and heart problems.

Sleep apnea is also a risk factor for several other conditions. Those with sleep apnea are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, liver problems, and complications with medications and surgery.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Among the clearest signs of sleep apnea is the inability to get a good night’s sleep. While some remember the occurrence of suddenly jolting awake, many fall asleep immediately after an episode and don’t remember. If you’re not feeling rested after a full night’s sleep or if you find yourself becoming drowsy throughout the day, sleep apnea could be to blame. 

Having a headache in the morning is another major indicator, as is waking up with a dry mouth. Snoring is another common sign of sleep apnea, one which people often find out about from their partners. While many of these symptoms can have other causes, they’re reason enough to find out whether you’re suffering from sleep apnea.

Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea

There are many different factors that contribute to a higher risk of developing sleep apnea. Excess weight is among the most prominent, as fat deposits around the airway make obstruction that much more likely. Sleep apnea is also more common in men.

Smoking, nasal congestion, and a narrowed airway from tonsil or adenoid swelling can also cause sleep apnea. Age is a factor as well, with the condition being more common in older adults. Your family history can also indicate your risk of developing sleep apnea.

Why Sleep Apnea Often Goes Undiagnosed

Many people who suffer from sleep apnea are never diagnosed. Some don’t realize that their tiredness and lack of quality sleep are due to a medical condition and simply never seek out care. Others realize that something may be wrong but wish to avoid the cost and time of proper care.

To diagnose sleep apnea, a patient will need to be observed overnight. This can be an uncomfortable and unappealing prospect for some people. However, the benefits of getting proper treatment far outweigh these inconveniences.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are several sleep apnea treatments available today. One of the most common is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This is used in moderate to severe cases and requires the patient to wear a mask over their nose as they sleep. The mask provides constant air pressure, preventing the throat from closing.

This can be too uncomfortable and intrusive for some patients. So in these cases, a simple oral appliance can produce great results. A custom nightguard can hold the jaw in the right position to prevent the throat muscles from relaxing and closing. You might get relief from sleep apnea without a  CPAP machine.

A custom oral appliance isn’t always the right treatment option, but you can reach out to your dentist to discuss the most effective treatment for you.

Sleep Apnea Treatment from the Best Dentist in Lakeway, TX

If you’re tired throughout the day or discover that you jolt awake at night, reach out to Tomasik Family Dental to find out whether or not you have sleep apnea. Dr. Tomasik has specialized training in sleep apnea treatment and can help find a treatment plan that meets your unique needs.

Contact Tomasik Family Dental today to schedule a consultation and learn more about your options.

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