Information About Sleep Apnea Treatments
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious and potentially-deadly sleep disorder that many people in the United States suffer from. However, many sufferers go undiagnosed, leaving them susceptible to a host of medical problems.
Sleep apnea happens when your breathing stops and starts periodically while you slumber, and oftentimes, prevents you from breathing altogether. If shallow breathing sleep apnea symptoms go untreated, it may lead to loud snoring, daytime exhaustion, heart trouble, high blood pressure, and in some cases, death.
It’s important to note that sleep apnea and snoring are not always related. However, they can be. Normal snoring can be caused by nose or throat conditions, sleep position, patient’s age, obesity, and the use or abuse of alcohol and other depressant drugs.
Common signs a person may be suffering from sleep apnea include:
- Loud snoring
- Body or mental fatigue
- Suddenly waking due to lack of breath
- Onset of anxiety
- Major depression
- Sleeplessness or restlessness while sleeping
- Frequent nightmares
- Sexual dysfunction or decrease in performance
- Dry mouth
- Trouble concentrating or remembering
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea & central sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type. It occurs when your airways repeatedly block up during sleep. Frequently, airway blockage during sleep is the result of the back of your throat collapsing. During these episodes, your diaphragm and chest muscles work harder than normal to open your airways. You may start to breathe with loud gasps or jerk your body. This can affect your sleep, lower the flow of oxygen to your vital organs, and lead to abnormal heart rhythms. The second type, central sleep apnea, occurs when your brain and central nervous system fail to properly communicate or perform their normal duties.
What Sleep Apnea Treatments Are Available?
For milder cases of sleep apnea, your dentist will likely focus on helping you make lifestyle changes. These may include increased exercise, giving up smoking, avoiding alcohol consumption, or for obese patients, weight loss & weight management. For patients suffering from allergies, various treatments or medications may help relieve your sleep apnea symptoms.
However, should these sleep apnea treatments fail to improve your signs and symptoms, other treatments are available. Certain devices like the CPAP can help open up a blocked airway. Additionally, sing supplemental oxygen devices while you sleep may relieve sleep apnea symptoms if you have central sleep apnea. Various forms of oxygen are available with devices to deliver oxygen to your lungs. Certain oral devices may also help keep your airways open. Finally, in more severe cases, oral surgery sleep apnea treatments might be necessary.