January 18, 2016
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that affects more than 20 million US adults every year. If this statistic isn’t startling enough, an estimated 80% of cases go completely undiagnosed or misdiagnosed annually. One of the main reasons this sleep disorder is overlooked by physicians is that the symptoms vary widely. One way to ensure an early and accurate diagnosis is to know what sleep apnea is, and understand the warning signs and risk factors associated with this disorder.
Obstructive & Central Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea obstructive (OSA) and central (CSA), but sleep apnea simply refers to the cessation of breathing for ten or more seconds while sleeping. Patients who experience sleep apnea waken repeatedly throughout the night (often they have no recollection of this) as their brain sends warning signals stirring the body from sleep to restart breathing. CSA occurs when the brain does not signal the body to breathe during sleep. OSA can be caused by numerous factors, but is the obstruction of the airway during sleep preventing patients from breathing. OSA is much more common than CSA, and is the type of apnea we treat most frequently.
The 7 Sleep Apnea Warning Signs
In order to help your dentist or physician diagnose and treat sleep apnea in its earliest stages, you should know the warning signs, and whether or not you are at risk for this detrimental health concern.
- Loud snoring – the most common side effect of sleep apnea is snoring that occurs when the obstructed airway hinders the smooth passage of breath. As air is squeezed around the obstruction the throat vibrates leading to loud snoring sounds.
- Waking frequently – patients with sleep apnea typically wake up numerous times throughout the night, but they don’t always remember doing so.
- Hypersomnia – also called excessive day time sleepiness, the repeated awakening causes patients to feel tired or lack energy throughout the day. Wakening throughout the night can prevent you from entering the deepest stage of sleep (REM), which is the most restorative stage of your sleep cycle.
- Morning headaches, earaches – headaches and earaches can be caused by snoring frequently which is a strong indicator of sleep apnea.
- High blood pressure – as the body awakens numerous times throughout the night, patients lack sound sleep, and the warning response the body sends to awaken sleepers puts excessive strain on the heart the same way the heart beats more loudly or quickly when a person is frightened.
- Dry mouth – snoring and breathing with the mouth open leads to dry mouth or makes it worse for many patients.
- Irritability, depression, mood swings, lack of concentration – because patients don’t sleep soundly, they wake exhausted. Sleep deprivation has a huge impact on a person’s ability to function throughout the day leading to altered mood, forgetfulness, and irritability.
Weight, age, sex, alcohol consumption, and genetic predisposition are risk factors that increase your chances to suffer from sleep apnea. Consult with your dentist or physician to determine if you are at an increased risk for sleep apnea.
Contact James Block Dentistry Today
If you’re experiencing any of these common signs of sleep apnea, the Fremont, CA dentist and team at James Block Dentistry can help. Contact us today to schedule a sleep apnea consultation. We’re happy to offer patients preliminary evaluation for sleep apnea, referrals to local sleep study practices, and oral appliance therapy, CPAP, or combined therapy for the treatment of sleep apnea.
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