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What is Sleep Apnea? – Spring, TX

Learn More about Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Do you suffer from chronic snoring? Maybe you experience daytime fatigue despite sleeping for the recommended 7 to 8 hours per night? You might have an underlying sleep disorder. Roughly 22 million Americans live with obstructive sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing several times throughout the night. What is sleep apnea? Here’s what you should know about the condition to get the relief you need.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Image showing what is sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition that results in frequent interruptions in breathing several times throughout the night. Each pause depletes oxygen levels in the body, leading to potentially serious complications. There are 3 main types of the sleep disorder:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The upper airway becomes blocked from the soft tissues in the back of the mouth collapsing, creating an obstruction. It’s the most common type of sleep apnea.
  • Central Sleep Apnea: The brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the muscles responsible for breathing.
  • Complex Sleep Apnea: Both obstructive and central sleep apnea are responsible for the interruptions in breathing.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Model showing obstructive sleep apnea.

Many people who have sleep apnea aren’t diagnosed because the symptoms can be quite diverse. As a result, they are often attributed to other factors. The most common signs of the disorder include:

  • Loud, chronic snoring
  • Waking choking or gasping for air
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Morning time headaches
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Irritability and mood swings

Unfortunately, the complications of untreated sleep apnea don’t stop there. The condition can also affect your health, increasing your risk of heart disease, sleep deprivation, and other serious concerns.

What are the Risk Factors for Sleep Apnea?

Man struggling to fall asleep.

Anyone can develop sleep apnea, no matter their age or gender; however, there are a few risk factors that increase your likeliness for it, such as:

  • Excess weight
  • Large neck circumference
  • A narrowed airway
  • Being male
  • Being older
  • Family history
  • Use of sedatives, tranquilizers, or alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Nasal congestion
  • Underlying medical conditions

How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

Image of a blocked upper airway.

If you or a loved one suspect you have sleep apnea, you’ll need to contact your physician for further testing. They will recommend a sleep study to monitor your vitals while you’re asleep. Based on the information of the study, they can determine the severity of the condition to allow your dentist to provide the right intervention, like a CPAP or oral appliance.

Sleep Better Tonight

If you’re not getting the rest you need, it might not be caused by a bad mattress. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation for sleep apnea therapy.