Sleep apnea is a fairly common sleep disorder that runs the risk of being potentially dangerous but is mainly just inconvenient and can get worse over time without proper treatment. It’s important to understand exactly what sleep apnea is to better diagnose yourself and to ensure that you’re seeking the correct medical treatment, as well as being able to effectively communicate with your doctor or dentist.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts while asleep. There are two main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive and central.
Obstructive, the more common and less dangerous of the two, occurs when the throat muscles relax, narrowing the amount of breath that you’re able to take in. This has the potential to lower your blood-oxygen levels. When your body begins to take in less oxygen, your brain will begin to think that you’re not breathing and will wake you up very briefly so you can reopen your airway passages. During this period, which can happen anywhere from 5 to 30 times an hour, you may make a choking, snorting, or gasping sound. When this happens, you lose sleep quality and may find yourself more tired in the mornings.
Many other factors, including weather conditions, can worsen your obstructive sleep apnea, such as cold weather, or humidity. Residents of southern states, like here in Baton Rouge, are more likely to have worsened conditions of sleep apnea than someone located in a dry state/city.
Central sleep apnea is less common but more serious than obstructive. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain stops transmitting signals to the breathing muscles, causing you to stop breathing for periods of time. If you think you have central sleep apnea it’s important to see a sleep professional.
How do you know if you have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
If you sleep with a partner, more than likely they will be able to tell if you have the symptoms of sleep apnea due to snoring and potential choking/gasping sounds. If not, it can be a little more difficult to tell. If you catch yourself waking up a lot in the middle of the night, or even after a full 8 hours you still feel noticeable exhaustion the following morning.
Risks associated with Sleep Apnea
- Daytime fatigue
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anger or depression
If Sleep Apnea is left untreated
- High blood pressure
- Heart attack
- Type 2 diabetes
- Chronic acid reflux
What can you do?
There are a variety of things you can do to get your sleep apnea under control until you see a doctor:
- Sleep on your side
- Stop smoking
- Don’t drink alcohol before bed
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Avoid sedative medicines
Once you see a doctor and they determine the severity of your condition, they may recommend a plethora of options such as medication for sinuses, a CPAP, an EPAP, oral appliances, or surgery.
Oral appliances are one of the easier, more convenient options that are worth trying. Galliano Family Dentistry has a team of experts located in the Baton Rouge area, waiting to help you overcome your sleep apnea. The most common that they offer is a snore guard which is similar to an athletic mouth guard in appearance. It is only worn at night when sleeping and is used to force the lower jaw down and slightly forward. This helps to keep the airway open.
Galliano Family Dentistry is more than just a dentist’s office, offering a wide variety of procedures and cosmetic services. If you’re located in the Baton Rouge area, Galliano is the place to go.