Sleep apnea is a very real, potentially dangerous, medical condition shared by up to 18 million people. Sleep apnea literally means sleep “without breath,” or the cessation of breathing while asleep. The sleep apnea sufferer may stop breathing and awaken briefly up to 20 or 30 times per hour, gasping for air.
The most common type of apnea is obstructive apnea, when the airway becomes blocked by soft tissue in the back of the throat, usually producing a loud snore. A less common type is central sleep apnea, rarely associated with snoring, when the muscles in the throat are not properly receiving signals from the brain. It is possible to have both types of apnea, called complex sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
How can you know if you have sleep apnea? Check these common symptoms to see if they sound familiar:
• Sore throat and dry mouth upon waking
• Irritability, moodiness, depression
• Loud snoring, usually more than three nights per week
• Frequently waking to urinate
• Headaches, inability to concentrate.
If the symptoms sound very familiar, you may be dealing with sleep apnea. This serious condition, which has been connected to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke, can be treated to vastly improve your quality of life.
Treatments that Work!
1. Lifestyle changes are one of the keys to successfully treatment sleep apnea. One of the most important is to stop smoking. Smoking irritates the airways in the upper airway and throat, contributing to snoring and apnea.
2. Next, if you carry extra pounds, attempt to lose weight. Not only will your apnea improve, or possibly be cured, but it will help other health issues as well.
3. Elevate the head of your bed by six inches or use a foam wedge to raise your shoulders and head, which prevents extra soft tissue from falling in the back of your throat and restricting the airways.
4. Avoid all sleeping aids, medications, alcohol, and caffeine prior to bedtime as they cause the muscles in the next to relax, possibly resulting in sleep apnea.
5. See your doctor to discover if a CPAP machine will be helpful for you. The CPAP provides a constant stream of air that helps keep the airway open and provides a more restful night’s sleep.
6. Get fitted for a dental device. There are two basic types, one that repositions the lower jaw to open the airway, and a tongue detaining type, that brings the tongue forward to prevent to open the throat.
Sleep apnea, left untreated, can lead to more serious health problems. However, with your willingness to make lifestyle changes and follow doctor’s orders, you can successfully get a great night’s sleep and have a great tomorrow!
Information provided by Parkland Mall Dental Centre, a Red Deer Cosmetic Dentist.