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The Ten Most Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea affects more than 22 million Americans of all ages, both men and women. Sleep apnea is a medical disorder that causes individuals to intermittently stop breathing when they’re asleep. Read on to learn more about this disorder.

Is There More Than One Type of Sleep Apnea?

There are three types of sleep apnea:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is the most common, and it occurs when your throat muscles are overly relaxed, which creates a physical blockage that obstructs the airway. This overworks the chest muscles because they have to work harder to force air into your lungs. Although the pauses are typically ten seconds or less, they can occur as many as 30 times in an hour, so they can dramatically reduce the amount of quality sleep you receive. OSA affects men more frequently than women.
  2. Central sleep apnea, or CSA, occurs when the brain perceives that it’s not getting enough oxygen. Usually, CSA is the result of trauma to the lower brain stem, but it can also occur as the result of a disease such as Parkinson’s.
  3. Complex sleep apnea, also called mixed sleep apnea, has the symptoms of both CSA and OSA and frequently begins due to a physical obstruction. However, it often remains after the obstruction has been removed, and researchers aren’t yet sure of the mechanics of complex sleep apnea.

What Causes Sleep Apnea and to Whom?

Anyone can develop sleep apnea at any age, and it affects both men and women. However, there are factors that can contribute to the onset of sleep apnea, such as:

  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Male gender
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Medical problems such as asthma, adenoids, or naturally narrow airways
  • Smoking

Does Sleep Apnea Have Recognizable Signs and Symptoms?

There are ten common signs of sleep apnea, so if you have one or more of the following, then make an appointment with your local dentist for a diagnosis and treatment:

  1. Daytime exhaustion: Regardless of the type of sleep apnea that you have, it will deprive you of the sleep that your body needs. You may feel exhausted during the day, even though you think you had enough sleep the night before. You may not remember waking up throughout the night, but your body will suffer the effects of sleep deprivation from the previous night. You may have mental fog and feel sleepy throughout the day.
  2. Decreased libido: Sleep apnea changes the chemical composition of your body, which often lowers the levels of testosterone, which can result in a decreased desire for sex.
  3. Dry mouth or a sore throat each morning: Many of those who have sleep apnea often sleep with their mouths open. This facilitates their oxygen intake, but it causes them to wake up with a dry mouth and a sore or raspy throat.
  4. Choking or gasping: If you wake up because you’re gasping for air or choking, it may be due to sleep apnea. This is a very common symptom and occurs because your brain senses that it’s being deprived of oxygen.
  5. High blood pressure: The chemical imbalance caused by sleep apnea can elevate the blood pressure. Hypertension can be further exacerbated by lowered oxygen levels in the blood, which directly results from breathing interruptions.
  6. Intermittent breathing: If you periodically pause for several seconds between breaths when you’re sleeping, you may have sleep apnea.
  7. Lack of mental acuity: Mental fuzziness occurs because of a lack of sleep, and it’s a common side effect of sleep apnea.
  8. Mood swings: Research indicates that sleep apnea changes your brain structure, which may be attributed to a chemical imbalance. It can result in moodiness and irritability among those who suffer from sleep apnea.
  9. Morning headaches: Morning headaches can be the result of low oxygen levels as well as a lack of sleep. Morning headaches are a classic sign of sleep apnea.
  10. Snoring: Snoring is annoying to everyone, and it’s prevalent among those who have sleep apnea. Sometimes, snoring occurs when there’s not enough room in the airway for the body to breathe adequately.

Is Sleep Apnea Serious Enough to Be Treated?

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea, then you should schedule an appointment with your dentist. When sleep apnea isn’t treated, you can build up dangerously high levels of carbon dioxide in your blood. Since sleep apnea causes exhaustion, you’re in danger of having an auto accident or another type of accident. It can also contribute to several serious medical conditions as well as exacerbate the symptoms of Type 2 diabetes or hypertension. If you think you have sleep apnea, then call for an appointment.

How Does a Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

In order to be treated for sleep apnea, you first need to be diagnosed. This involves a sleep test that can be conducted in your home or in a clinic. After your dentist receives the results of the test, they’ll establish a treatment regimen for you. Usually, sleep apnea is treated through the use of a continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine or through oral appliance therapy, or OAT therapy.

A CPAP machine forces air through a face mask so that you maintain a continuous flow of air throughout the night. If you stop breathing, then the device forces the air through your mask.

If you opt for OAT therapy, which is the most common, then you’ll wear an apparatus similar to a mouthguard, and a machine will supply air during the times that you stop breathing. OAT therapy is the most common treatment because the mask is smaller, as is the machine.

Are Sleep Apnea Treatments Available Near Me?

Your local dentist has been trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, so if you have sleep apnea, then call Imagix Dental at for an appointment. Sleep apnea can prevent you from living the most enjoyable life possible, so if you have it or think you might, be sure to seek treatment for it.

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