Do you wake up feeling as if you never slept at all? Have you also recently gained weight or been diagnosed with high blood pressure? If so, you may have a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea. Sufferers of this condition experience interrupted breathing while they sleep, often hundreds of times per night. Each time you experience a pause in your breathing, you are brought out of the deeper sleep cycles that your body needs to feel restored in the morning. As the most common form of sleep apnea is caused by the collapse of the soft tissues of the throat, snoring is a symptom of this condition. Many patients do not know that have sleep apnea until a loved one witnesses the snoring or pauses in breathing.
The Dangers of Interrupted Breathing
If you stop breathing multiple times per hour and awaken slightly as a result, your body is constantly kept in light sleep cycles. Because you need deep sleep in order to feel rested, you will experience daytime fatigue that can not only affect your work or school performance but also become life threatening if you drive a car or operate machinery. In addition to your increased risk of accidents, your health may suffer as well. Sleep apnea deprives your brain and other organs of oxygen, which can lead to high blood pressure, stroke, depression, heart attack, and diabetes.
Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea
While anyone can develop sleep apnea, your risk increases if you are male, over 40, or overweight. Your anatomy plays a role as well, as a large neck, tongue, or tonsils can contribute to this condition. Other risk factors include gastroesophageal reflux, allergies, sinus problems, or a deviated septum.
Treatments to Help You Breathe Easy and Sleep Soundly
Treatments for sleep apnea focus on preventing the throat from collapsing so that the airway remains open. One common treatment is a CPAP machine, which administers a continuous flow of air through a breathing mask and keeps the throat tissues open. Another treatment option, and one that most patients find more comfortable than CPAP, is an oral appliance designed by your Lodi and Stockton dentist. Similar to a mouthguard worn at night for TMJ disorder or bruxism, your oral appliance will pull your lower jaw forward, keeping your airway open and allowing you to breathe with ease while you sleep. call us today to make an appointment.