Sleep Apnea Symptoms

In recent studies, it is reported that an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening medical disorder that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. What occurs in a sleep apnea episode is the muscles in your throat relax and the tongue may fall back and block the airway as you sleep. This reduces the oxygen delivered to your organs. These episodes can cause you to stop breathing for short periods of time, causing your body to briefly awake, sometimes while you remain unaware. An individual with sleep apnea usually exhibits the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Choking or gasping for air during sleep
  • Frequent night awakenings
  • Long pauses in breath
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Headaches
  • Waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat

A physician is required to perform an overnight sleep study to properly diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed, you have options of treatment with a dentist familiar with oral appliance therapies for sleeping disorders. Oral appliances are usually the recommended treatment for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy involves the fabrication of a specific oral appliance designed to maintain an open, unobstructed airway in the throat while asleep. The advantage of this treatment is that it’s non-invasive and easy to get acclimated to being worn.

However, sleep apnea is more commonly treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure Device (CPAP), a respiratory therapy device that blows compressed air through the nostrils at a prescribed pressure to keep the airway open. This is due to the fact that CPAP treatment is deemed to be slightly more effective overall. Surgery can be a potential treatment when other options have been unsuccessful in eliminating the symptoms of sleep apnea. There are a few different surgical approaches aimed to change the shape of back of the soft palate to increase the airway opening.

The above treatments can be used in combination with behavioral modification therapy to lessen the severity of sleep apnea. Many people choose to go without treatment for their sleep apnea. Sleep apnea patients have a much higher risk of stroke and heart problems, such as heart attack, congestive heart failure and hypertension. Fortunately, sleep apnea can be diagnosed and treated.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

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