Sleep Apnea


Sleep Apnea

Do you often find yourself feeling drowsy during the day despite thinking you’ve had a good night’s sleep? Do you snore loudly or wake up breathless in the middle of the night?  Sleep apnea might be the hidden culprit.

According to the American Medical Association, about 30 million people in the United States have sleep apnea, but only 6 million are diagnosed with the condition.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where your breathing intermittently pauses while you sleep, occurring as frequently as 20-30 times per hour. These interruptions in breathing trigger your brain to briefly wake you up, just enough to restore proper breathing and oxygen levels. Surprisingly, most individuals with sleep apnea do not recall these awakening moments, which makes identifying the issue challenging.

The repetitive cycle of waking up momentarily and falling back asleep disrupts the chances of reaching deep sleep, leaving you with a constant feeling of fatigue throughout the day.

woman suffering from sleep apnea

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.

  • Trouble falling asleep or insomnia
  • Loud snoring during the night
  • Frequent waking up at night, short of breath
  • Noticing snorting or choking sounds while sleeping (signaling breathing interruptions)
  • Morning headaches upon waking
  • Unintentionally falling asleep during the day
  • Battling extreme drowsiness throughout your day

Are There Different Types of Sleep Apnea?

There are three categories of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most prevalent form of sleep apnea, wherein a physical obstruction occurs, typically caused by the collapse of soft tissue at the back of the throat. The blockage restricts airflow, leading to periodic breathing pauses during sleep.
  2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Less common than OSA, CSA occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles responsible for breathing. This lack of communication leads to interruptions in breathing while sleeping.
  3. Mixed or Complex Sleep Apnea: Some individuals experience a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea, referred to as mixed or complex sleep apnea. This presents unique challenges and necessitates a comprehensive approach to address both aspects.

What Are the Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea, a common sleep disorder, can affect anyone, but certain risk factors increase its likelihood. These include:

  1. Weight and obesity
  2. Age (over 40)
  3. Gender (more common in men)
  4. Family history
  5. Neck circumference
  6. Smoking and alcohol use
  7. Medical conditions
  8. Sedative use
  9. Inactive lifestyle

How Is Sleep Apnea Treated?

At Paventy & Brown Orthodontics we understand that treating sleep apnea requires personalized approaches based on the severity and type of apnea you experience. We offer a range of effective treatments to help you achieve better sleep and improved overall health.

For milder cases, behavioral interventions can be highly effective. This may include lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, smoking cessation, or adjusting your sleep position to reduce throat blockage.

To provide additional relief, we can utilize oral devices that gently position your mouth to prevent airway obstruction during sleep. These devices are comfortable and custom-fitted for your convenience.

In more severe cases, where other treatments may not suffice, our orthodontists may recommend surgical options.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep apnea is a significant medical issue that demands attention. When left untreated, it can escalate to high blood pressure, increasing the risks of heart failure and stroke. The persistent fatigue caused by sleep apnea can lead to challenges at work or school and poses dangers when driving or handling heavy machinery. Additionally, sleep apnea can complicate medication or surgical procedures; sedation with anesthesia and lying flat after an operation become riskier.

What Should I Do if I Suspect I Have Sleep Apnea?

Contact our office if you have concerns about sleep apnea. We can refer you to a sleep apnea specialist. The specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose the precise extent of the problem and can prescribe appropriate treatment. Depending on your situation, treatment may involve an oral device that we can custom-create for you.

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