Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition caused by the collapse of a person’s airway as they sleep. While many people may think that sleep apnea is just snoring, it is actually a much more in-depth and serious medical problem. At Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders, we provide sleep apnea treatment at more than a dozen centers across the United States, so you and your loved ones can easily access the important care you need to reduce your sleep apnea symptoms and live a healthier life.
How do I know if my snoring is sleep apnea?
While snoring may be the most well-known symptom of sleep apnea, there are some other things you can be aware of that may indicate it is time to speak with an experienced doctor. The three primary indicators of sleep apnea are persistent snoring, excessive fatigue during the day, and gasping episodes or pauses in breathing while you are asleep. Of course, it can be difficult for us to know how our bodies function while we are sleeping, so often a bed partner will be integral in discovering the existence of these issues and moving forward with a diagnosis. If you do not have another person who shares your bedroom, dry mouth upon waking and frequent urination during the night could also be signs of sleep apnea. If you find that you are unable to feel well-rested in the morning, or that you struggle with headaches and irritability throughout the day, it may indicate that your sleep is being impacted by obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and you should schedule an appointment with a doctor who specializes in sleep disorders.
Is sleep apnea really that serious?
When you struggle to breathe each night because of OSA, it puts an incredible amount of stress on other parts of your body. Patients with severe sleep apnea may stop breathing a hundred or more times in a single evening, putting intense strain on the heart, kidneys, and lungs. Sleep apnea has been shown to worsen high blood pressure in patients who already have it, increase your chance of a heart attack, and even reduce your body’s ability to effectively use insulin, which can make type 2 diabetes worse. Your chance of developing sleep apnea increases significantly if you are obese, while lack of quality sleep has been linked to difficulty shedding unwanted pounds. Sleep apnea and lack of sleep can cause daytime drowsiness that can impact your ability to work effectively and even increase the chance that you will be involved in a work-related or vehicular accident as your focus and ability to pay attention are reduced. Lack of quality sleep can drastically impact your daily life, and OSA is therefore a medical condition that should be taken seriously.
What treatments are available for sleep apnea?
There are many methods that can be used to help control OSA symptoms. Patients who are obese may wish to start by reducing their bodyweight to within a safe limit. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines can be used to provide enough pressure to keep your airways open throughout the night. At Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders, our exceptional dental staff can also create a customized dental appliance that will help your mouth and jaw rest in a more natural position, keeping your airway open without the bulk or inconvenience of CPAP machine.
If you are struggling with sleep apnea symptoms, contact one of Koala® Center for Sleep and TMJ Disorders convenient locations to speak with a doctor about your sleep apnea treatment options.