If you wake up as tired as when you went to bed, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Characterized by short lapses in breathing, sleep apnea affects an estimated 12 million Americans. Although sleep apnea can seem like just a mild annoyance, this condition has been linked with other health concerns high blood pressure, heart disease, memory problems, and daytime drowsiness.
Defining Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which the patient experiences shallow breathing or pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses can occur several times during sleep, leading to health complications and lifestyle hindrances.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common, but often dangerous, condition that causes your body to stop breathing during sleep. When you fall asleep, your throat muscles relax and your tongue may fall to the back of your throat blocking your airway. Often this condition is accompanied with loud snoring and a person consciously or unconsciously waking up intermittently for short periods of time when they stop breathing. The breathing may stop hundreds of times a night. Often the person with obstructive sleep apnea wakes up unrefreshed and tired most days.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include feeling tired throughout the day, memory loss, impaired concentration, impaired driving, headaches, irritability, depression and sometimes a decreased sex drive. Obstructive sleep apnea can lead to more serious conditions including heart attacks, hypertension, and even death while sleeping.
Often this condition comes on with increased age and weight issues.
How we can help
Dentists and physicians together are working to try to alleviate or prevent obstructive sleep apnea. White Marsh Family Dentistry uses FDA approved oral appliances to help treat sleep apnea and other related sleep disorders. This device is worn like a mouth guard while the person sleeps. It fits like an orthodontic retainer, preventing the tongue from falling and supporting the mouth so the muscles don’t collapse when they relax.
Other options to treat sleep apnea include, but are not limited to, CPAP machines as well as several forms of minor surgical techniques.