Sleep apnea is a condition in which you stop breathing temporarily while you are sleeping. Although you begin breathing again after a few seconds, you typically are jolted out of deep sleep multiple times during the night when this happens. Apnea can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of them severe. Some studies have shown that weight loss can help reduce or eliminate sleep apnea.
Causes and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can occur due to an obstruction in your airway. This could be a result of the natural shape of your throat or could be a side effect of excess weight. Smoking can lead to swelling in the throat, which can also obstruct the airway and cause apnea. Some other common causes of apnea include:
- Sinus problems
- A large or overly long tongue
- A narrow palate
- Large adenoids and/or tonsils
- Deviated septum
Treating the underlying problems can also reduce or eliminate symptoms of sleep apnea. If symptoms persist in spite of treatment, you might need intervention such as a CPAP device.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Excessive or overly loud snoring
- Excessive sleepiness during the day
- A feeling of overall malaise, almost like the flu
- Difficulties with memory or with concentration
Apnea can be difficult to diagnose, and you might need to see a sleep specialist to receive a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea
Treating sleep apnea depends upon its root causes. Common approaches include:
- A special appliance made by a dentist or prosthodontist that keeps the airway open
- A CPAP machine, which uses gentle air pressure to open the airways
- Lifestyle changes such as weight loss or smoking cessation
- In severe cases, surgery to remove airway obstructions
Using an appliance provided by your prosthodontist or using a CPAP machine are less intrusive treatments that can provide dramatic relief. Surgery is generally reserved for cases where these approaches don’t work. If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep apnea, be sure to talk to our team today at Dakota Prosthodontics & Implant Center!