Sleep apnea is a condition where the individual’s sleep is interrupted throughout the night due to a blockage of the airway. This blockage is due to soft tissue in the mouth or throat that collapses preventing oxygen from reaching the brain. This signals the brain, and the patient awakens often with a snorting or coughing sound. A partner may be more aware of these interruptions than the patient, but there are often other symptoms that signal that these sleep disruptions are occurring:
Daily fatigue – Insufficient sleep on a regular basis can threaten health and the ability to function correctly. A job that relies on a rested individual (airline pilot, truck driver, healthcare provider, etc) can jeopardize the safety of many people.
Headache – Aches and pains are a common occurrence, but if you awaken with a headache regularly, this may be a symptom to investigate.
Mood changes – If you notice you have become more irritable, sleep disruption may be involved.
Attention deficit – The inability to focus could mean you’re not getting the sleep you need.
Snoring – Many people snore; and they all are not suffering from sleep apnea. But if you snore loudly and consistently, this might bear further investigation.
Sleep apnea requires a sleep study to confirm a diagnosis, but for many patients that suspect they are suffering from this sleep disorder a great place to start for relief is as close as your dental office. Also, this condition can be genetic – if a family member suffers from sleep apnea and you are experiencing many or all of these symptoms, further investigation is needed.
Oral appliance therapy has been successful in treating patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea. The oral appliance is fitted precisely; it is designed to position your jaw to prevent those soft tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway.
Other remedies that may be tried include sleeping on your side; lose a few pounds, if needed; do not smoke; and do not use sleep aids or alcohol to promote sleep (these actually exacerbate the problem as they relax those soft tissues that can block the airway).
Avoid consuming caffeine in the hours before bed; exercise daily; establish a routine by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day; and if you have an oral appliance designed to prevent sleep apnea, make sure you use it.
Call our team today to determine how you can treat your sleep apnea.