Sleep apnea is estimated to effect as much as 5-10% of adults in the US, approximately 20 million people. Many of those people have yet to be diagnosed. If you think you may have sleep apnea, go here to take our Sleep Apnea quiz or read the symptoms below to learn more.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly throughout the night. This is usually followed by an awakening to breathe.
There are two main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
Obstructive sleep apnea is by far the most common. It’s caused by blockage and/or collapse of the upper airway. This prevents air from getting into the lungs causing disruption in sleep and resulting in excessive sleepiness or fatigue during the day.
- Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)
Central Sleep Apnea is a neurological condition causing cessation of all respiratory effort during sleep. In this case, the area of the brain controlling breathing shuts down, causing no respiratory effort or breathing. This is much rarer than Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?
- Loud snoring often followed by episodes of silence lasting from 10 seconds to 1 minute+
- Witnessed pauses in breathing
- Choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Restless sleep
- Frequent visits to the bathroom
- Excessive daytime sleepiness/fatigue
- Falling asleep at inappropriate times – watching TV, reading, working, and even while driving a car
- Morning headaches
- Severe dryness of the mouth
- Poor concentration
- Depression or irritability
Since Obstructive Sleep Apnea is much more common and has more available treatment options, this is what I will discuss today.
What causes the airway to close during sleep in a person with OSA?
There are several reasons for the airway to close in a person with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, including:
- Extra tissue in the back of the airway, such as large tonsils
- Decrease in the tone of the muscles that hold the airway open
- The tongue falling to the back of the throat and closing off the airway
If I were awakening in the night and having all these symptoms, wouldn’t I be aware of it?
Many people don’t realize they have sleep apnea. For those that do, it’s because a partner or spouse has complained about their snoring when sharing the same bed.
Most people with sleep apnea become accustomed to the frequent waking. Daytime sleepiness, headaches and other symptoms just become normal.
What are the potential consequences of untreated OSA?
Sleep apnea is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly. There are several long-term consequences that you are at risk for because of the decreased oxygen your body experiences throughout the night:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and heart attack
- Fatigue-related motor vehicle and work accidents
- Decreased quality of life – depression, irritability, loss of memory, lack of energy, or a high risk of auto and workplace accidents
What should you do if you think you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Start by going here to apply for a free sleep apnea consultation in [city] > [freesleepapneaconsultlink]
Dr. [last name] can help you determine which type of sleep apnea you have and if you’re eligible for one of the more simple treatment options, like an Oral Sleep Appliance.
Oral Sleep Appliances position the jaw, so your airway stays open while you sleep and keeps the airway clear. With these simple appliances, you can breathe freely throughout the night and get the right amount of oxygen.
What are the benefits of using an oral sleep appliance?
If you are a candidate for an oral sleep appliance, it can change your life. Users report a dramatic increase in their quality of life, including:
- Increased energy and attentiveness
- Fewer morning headaches
- Reduced irritability
- Improved memory
- Increased ability to exercise
- Lower blood pressure
- Decreased risk of strokes and heart attacks
- Increased effectiveness at home and at work
Is an Oral Sleep Appliance the Right Treatment Option for You?
If you are experiencing the signs of sleep apnea, start by going here to apply for a free sleep apnea consultation in [city] > [freesleepapneaconsultlink]
Dr. [last name] has extensive training in sleep apnea and can help you determine if an Oral Sleep Appliance will work for you.