You wake up feeling groggy yet again. You slept for nine hours, but you feel like you hardly slept four. Then your partner tells you it happened again. You woke them up several times, gasping for air, after not breathing for up to a full minute.
“How can I sleep when I’m so worried about you?” Your partner reminds you, frustrated with their own lack of sleep.
Upon realizing your sleep issues were starting to affect more than just yourself, you decide it’s finally time to give us a call.
At Biggers Family Dentistry, we’ll be here to answer your call.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by interruptions in a person’s breathing while they sleep. Those with untreated sleep apnea will repeatedly stop breathing while they sleep, potentially depriving the brain and the body of necessary oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
The more common form of sleep apnea that results from the blockage of your airway. Usually, the blockage happens when the soft tissue at the back of your throat relaxes and collapses while you sleep.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
With this form of sleep apnea, your airway isn’t blocked, but your brain doesn’t send a signal to your muscles to breathe.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Loud, excessive snoring
- Mood swings
- Sore throat
Potential Health Issues
As if sleep issues weren’t enough, sleep apnea can affect a lot more than just your sleep. If not treated properly, sleep apnea can put you at a greater risk for high blood pressure, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, worsening of ADHD, depression, and headaches.
Untreated sleep apnea can also affect your work, your personal life, and your performance in other everyday activities. Individuals with untreated sleep apnea are also at a higher risk for motor vehicle crashes because of daytime fatigue.
Sleep Apnea Risk Factors
Some people are more at risk for sleep apnea than others. People of all ages, including children, can be affected by sleep apnea. You may be more at risk of developing sleep apnea if you:
- Are male
- Are overweight
- Are over the age of 40
- Have a neck size of 17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women
- Have large tonsils, a small jawbone, or a large tongue
- Have a family history of sleep apnea
- Have gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
- Have a deviated septum, sinus problems, or allergies that cause nasal obstruction
Sleep Apnea Diagnosis & Treatment
When you come to see us for a consultation and express your concerns about your sleep habits, we can take a look at your case to determine whether you might have sleep apnea. We will examine your symptoms and take a look inside your mouth to see if you could benefit from an oral appliance. If necessary, we may refer you to a specialist to undergo a sleep study.
For patients with obstructive sleep apnea, an oral appliance can keep your airway open by slightly pushing your lower jaw out so you can sleep soundly through the night.
If an oral appliance can’t work for you, you may benefit from a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, machine.
For mild cases of sleep apnea, you may see an improvement in your symptoms by making several lifestyle changes. Losing weight, limiting alcohol intake, not smoking, and not sleeping on your back can improve your symptoms.
Find Relief From Sleep Apnea Today
Don’t wait any longer to call our Midlothian, VA dentist office. Don’t let your symptoms cost you or your partner another night of rest. We want to help you get the right diagnosis so you can find a treatment that’s right for you.