If you frequently snore and wake up feeling more tired than before you went to sleep, you may not realize there is a treatable condition behind your interrupted rest, or that the solution comes from your dentist in Temple. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) affects some 22 million Americans, and its effects can be deadly. Keep reading to learn about the warning signs for sleep apnea and how it’s treated — because you deserve relief from chronic exhaustion!
Why Obstructive Sleep Apnea Occurs
OSA is caused by a partial or complete blockage of air from the lungs through the windpipe during sleep. It occurs when the tongue or the lower jaw become so relaxed that the collapse, blocking oxygen to the brain. Snoring is common as a result of constricted air. Desperate to resume breathing, the brain sends out an emergency signal to wake the body up. People who have OSA may have their sleep interrupted hundreds of times in one night.
The risk factors for OSA include:
- Being overweight or obese (most significant factor)
- Having a narrow airway
- Deviated septum
- Blocked sinuses
- Medications that affect sleep
- Alcohol or tobacco consumption, especially before bed
Common Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea presents with symptoms that are common to a number of other conditions affecting sleep, like anxiety, depression, and others. For that reason, the condition may remain undiagnosed or misunderstood for years before a solution is finally found.
Learning about the symptoms of sleep apnea can help to ensure that you or your loved one receive the treatment you need to sleep peacefully once again.
Here are some of the most common warning signs of OSA.
- Loud, chronic snoring that is disruptive enough to disturb a sleeping partner
- Repeatedly waking with a start, gasp, or choking sensation
- Daytime confusion or difficulty completing routine tasks
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Waking with a dry mouth or sore throat
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your sleep dentist or general doctor if you notice any of these warning signs of OSA.
How We Treat It
The most common treatment for OSA is with a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, which shoots a steady stream of air into the lungs to keep the windpipe open during sleep. For patients who do not find relief with a CPAP or who wish for an alternative treatment can benefit from a removable oral appliance, which is smaller, more portable, and often more comfortable. Your dentist will talk to you about your options to help determine which may be best for you.
Now that you know all about the common symptoms of OSA, you have a better idea of what may be causing your poor sleep. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you think you could benefit from sleep apnea treatment!
About the Authors
Dr. Richard Fossum and Dr. Brooke Elmore are general dentists providing specialty services like treatment for sleep apnea in Temple. To learn more about this sleep breathing disorder or to schedule an appointment, you are invited to contact the office at 254-778-3900.