Don’t let sleep apnea keep you from a good night’s rest.
Not only do about 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but the large majority of these people — 80% of them — have never been diagnosed.
This may not sound like a big deal initially, but sleep apnea can be dangerous for those who suffer from it. Here, we’re going to talk about this condition and ensure you have all the facts on it. Read on to learn whether or not you should be tested for sleep apnea and what treatments are available for this health concern.
1. There are two types.
While you may think of sleep apnea as a singular health problem, there are actually two different types. The first, obstructive sleep apnea, happens when there isn’t proper airflow into or out of the nose and mouth. As you breathe in your sleep, this airflow is obstructed by mucus and other fluids, making it incredibly difficult to inhale and exhale. Snoring is caused by air passing through all of these obstructions. This is the more common type.
The second type is called central sleep apnea. This is a much less common phenomenon where the sleeping brain fails to send the appropriate signals to your muscles to make you breathe.
2. Snoring doesn’t always point to sleep apnea.
All people who have sleep apnea snore loudly, but not all people who snore loudly have sleep apnea. It’s kind of like how all thumbs are fingers but not all fingers are thumbs.
Snoring is the body’s response to reduced airflow. It’s a sound people make when they are struggling to breathe for any reason. Generally, this reason is an obstruction of airflow, which is why obstructive sleep apnea causes people to snore more often than central sleep apnea does.
Make no mistake: Those with central sleep apnea do snore! They simply won’t snore as loudly or as prominently as their obstructed counterparts.
3. You don’t always know you have it.
People with this condition aren’t always aware that this is an issue they struggle with. There are no noticeable signs that it’s happening during waking life, and these individuals generally feel well-rested, despite their breathing problems. Even if they wake up groggy, there are numerous explanations for this that don’t involve difficulty breathing.
Generally, those who have this condition don’t know this is the case until they have a partner they share a bed with. This partner will point out that they snore loudly and may request that they see a doctor. Snoring is problematic for everyone in these scenarios because it can keep your loved one up at night, too.
4. There are other signs.
Although you may not know you have sleep apnea, there are signs of this issue that you might want to look into.
Since interruptions in sleep caused by snoring can prevent you from getting a good night’s rest, sleep apnea is a possibility if you find yourself exhausted on a regular basis. Signs of exhaustion include a loss of productivity, mood swings, frequent napping, loss of focus, and even car accidents during the daytime.
Those who struggle with this issue may also wake up with a dry mouth. Snoring makes you open your mouth wide while sleeping and dries your saliva, so your mouth will lack moisture. You also may wake up with a headache because low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels during sleep are common for those who suffer from this health problem.
5. It’s tied to bruxism.
Another sign you should look into when figuring out if you have sleep apnea is frequent jaw and tooth pain. This is because those with this health problem also commonly struggle with bruxism, colloquially known as teeth grinding. In fact, a quarter of all people who have this medical issue grind their teeth, which makes it a good reason to look into whether or not you’re suffering from it.
In addition to jaw pain, you could develop a lot of long-term health issues because of bruxism. These problems include broken and chipped teeth, extreme tooth sensitivity, and problems with your gums. Make sure to ask about this issue next time you visit the dentist.
6. Sleep apnea can be dangerous.
Sleep apnea can be incredibly dangerous — and not just for your teeth. Multiple studies have shown this condition is linked to other serious health issues. These problems include strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes. Many people who have this condition also have shorter lifespans for more reasons than these terrible risks, too. When breathing is more difficult and the brain is deprived of oxygen for long intervals, it’s more likely that you will face an earlier death.
Additionally, depriving the brain of oxygen can lead to memory loss. This can cause early-onset Alzheimer’s and dementia, so you definitely want to talk to a doctor sooner rather than later if you’re concerned you might have this condition.
7. There are numerous treatments for sleep apnea.
While there are many issues associated with sleep apnea, not everything is gloom and doom. There are simple treatments you can undergo so you can start sleeping soundly and stay safe from health issues associated with this condition.
Helping yourself reduce problems associated with a mild case may be as simple as changing your sleeping position. Experts believe that sleeping on your side reduces the amount of snoring by putting you in a good position to get more oxygen. Sleeping propped up on multiple pillows also helps to promote good breathing and sound sleep.
Most people who suffer from this medical issue also choose to use sleep apnea masks. CPAP masks help maintain the seal of pressurized airflow to the nose and mouth so your body has the capacity to breathe normally when sleeping. Talk to an expert to find a mask that fits you comfortably so you can get a relaxing night’s rest.
Start treatment today!
While sleep apnea is a dangerous problem to have, it’s also an easily treatable one. Now that you know some of the most important facts about this common health issue, it’s time to look into some treatment plans that address this problem.
Contact us with any lingering questions you may have about your difficulty breathing while sleeping and issues with loud snoring. Our dental practitioners will be happy to help you look for more signs of sleep apnea and discuss treatment.