Has your partner been complaining about snoring coming from your general direction in the bed?
Do you struggle with fatigue during the day despite getting what should be plenty of hours of sleep?
Have you been especially moody or irritable lately?
You could be one of the millions of Americans who suffer from sleep apnea without even knowing it. In fact, it’s estimated that an astounding 80% of people with the condition are undiagnosed.
If you have symptoms, professional treatment is imperative for your health and happiness. Call Creekview Family Dentistry in Lewisville, TX at 972-505-3423.
A Cessation of Breath
Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles that enable you to breathe. But far more common is obstructive sleep apnea, which is the result of a physical obstruction — usually soft tissue hanging down from the back of the throat. This causes you to literally stop breathing up to dozens of times per hour and hundreds of times per night.
When your brain notices that you’ve stopped breathing, it will wake you just long enough so you can start again. You will likely not even remember these episodes, but they can disrupt your sleep cycle and prevent you from getting the rest you need. So you may very well think you’re getting adequate sleep, but still suffer the consequences of too little slumber.
Symptoms may include:
- Loud snoring
- Cessations of breathing (witnessed by a partner or another person)
- Headaches, dry mouth, or sore throat in the morning
- Frequent awakenings at night
- Inability to focus or pay attention during the day
- Chronic daytime fatigue
- Sleepy driving
- Mood swings and irritability
A Serious Sleep Disorder with Serious Consequences
Sleep apnea hurts quality of life and the sufferer’s ability to function significantly. You may go through your days in a fog, find you don’t have the energy to engage with your kids, and struggle to focus during work.
But this sleep disorder can have far more serious consequences. You may become depressed. It can even be deadly. People with the condition are much more likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident than non-sufferers (due to fatigue). They are six times more likely, alarmingly, to die in a car accident.
The condition is even closely associated with several deadly systemic diseases. Approximately half of people with it also suffer from hypertension. Untreated obstructive sleep apnea increases your chances of having and even dying from cardiovascular disease, perhaps at least partly due to the increase of stress hormones in the bodies of sleep apnea sufferers. It has also been associated with diabetes, stroke, hypothyroidism, and other conditions.
Know If You’re At Risk
Anyone can have obstructive sleep apnea — even children in some cases. But there are a number of factors that may put you at an increased risk.
- Being overweight or obese. People who are obese are four times more likely to have it than people of normal weight. This may be due to deposits of fat around the neck.
- Being a man. Men are twice more likely than women to have the sleep disorder, though a woman’s chances increases after menopause.
- Nasal congestion. If you have an anatomical issue or allergies that prevent you from being able to breathe easily through your nose, you may be at increased risk.
- Smoking. Smoking causes fluid retention and inflammation in the throat.
- Use of alcohol or sedatives. Certain drugs relax your throat muscles.
- Having a thick neck. Men with a neck circumference greater than 17 inches and women with a neck circumference greater than 15 inches are more likely to have a narrower-than-normal airway, putting them at risk.
- Having a family history. If you have relatives with the condition, you may be more at risk.
- Being older. Your risk increases with age.
How We Can Help
The conventional and most widely known sleep apnea treatment is a CPAP, or “continuous positive airway pressure” machine. While this therapy is highly effective in many cases, it does have some drawbacks. The machine is large, and patients must wear a bulky mask over their face. That, as well as the sensation of air being pumped into the throat, can be difficult to get used to. Because of that, the non-compliance rate is high.
We have an alternative. We can craft a custom mouthguard for you that keeps your jaw in such a position that your airway remains open while you sleep. The guard is made using impressions of your mouth, so it’s comfortable to wear. It is easily portable too.