What is sleep apnea?
Do you or a loved one struggle with exhaustion, no matter how many hours of sleep you’re getting? Is snoring disrupting you or your loved ones' sleep? Are you having trouble concentrating? Do you have headaches or feel like you are dragging through your day? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, it may be that you or a loved one is suffering from one of the most common sleep disorders; sleep apnea. Don't be concerned, our dental team at McIntyre D.D.S., P.C. is experienced in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is when you experience periods where you stop breathing when you are sleeping. These “stops” can be a second or two or can be several minutes. You can sleep (poorly) through these stops but they can be so severe you wake up. Central sleep apnea is when there is a problem in the communication between your brain and the muscles that draw in a breath. Obstructive sleep apnea, which is far more common, occurs when the soft palette near your throat becomes too soft and flops across your airway when you lay down to sleep. No matter how it manifests itself, it is an incredibly detrimental disorder, robbing your body of the rest it needs. This can lead to a variety of problems, from minor to potentially life-threatening.
Another common sleep disorder is snoring. Snoring can be a symptom of sleep apnea, but not always. We also regularly treat patients who suffer from compromised sleep because of snoring.
How do I know if I have sleep apnea?
Many, many people with sleep apnea go undiagnosed. Because of this, patients often do not realize that it is the issue causing them to experience poor sleep. Consequently, we screen each of our patients with an industry-standard questionnaire to take a proactive approach to your total health. Our screening can identify whether you suffer from obstructive or central sleep apnea. We partner with sleep specialists to either provide you with a dental device that will help you to sleep more restfully or refer you to a specialist who can help you with different treatment options.
How is it treated?
The treatment of choice is a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine. CPAP machines gently blow air into your airway to keep it open and unobstructed while you sleep. However, treatments can sometimes be as simple as wearing a mouthguard to bed to reposition your jaw.
What happens if I choose not to treat it?
Leaving sleep apnea untreated is not recommended. It can lead to many other health complications such as:
- high blood pressure
- heart failure
- worsening of ADHD
- reduced performance in everyday tasks