Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person’s breathing is affected, repeatedly stopping and starting during sleep.
A potentially dangerous condition, sleep apnea comes in three main forms: the most common being obstructive sleep apnea, involving the relaxing of the throat muscles; central sleep apnea, where the brain fails to send the right signals to the muscles; and finally, complex sleep apnea, which combines both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can affect anyone of any age - but there are a number of risk factors that may increase a person’s risk.
The risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include being overweight, having a larger neck circumference, having a more narrow throat/airway, having a family history of sleep apnea, having nasal congestion, being male, being older, regular use of alcohol and/or other substances like sedatives or tranquilizers, and/or regular smoking.
If you are a loud snorer and tend to regularly feel tired even after plenty of rest, you might be suffering from sleep apnea.
Other symptoms include episodes in which breathing ceases (your sleeping partner or another person would need to report this to you), gasping for air amidst sleep, waking up with a dry mouth and/or a headache, problems staying asleep at night (insomnia), and problems staying awake in the day/ excessive sleepiness (hypersomnia).
Treatment can go a long way in relieving symptoms, preventing secondary complications, and providing the sufferer with the quality sleep they deserve.
Currently, the primary treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device, which is a mask that is worn over the nose and/or mouth during sleep to help keep the airway open by gently blowing air.
Other treatment methods include wearing a dental appliance that works by helping to comfortably hold the lower jaw in protrusive positioning, aiding in keeping the airway open during sleep. The good news is, this wonderful and effective treatment for sleep apnea is offered by our Toronto dentist.
Other actions to take that can reduce or even obliterate symptoms of sleep apnea include first and foremost losing weight if you are overweight, avoiding use of alcohol, and quitting a smoking habit.
Untreated, sleep apnea can contribute to health problems such as high blood pressure and other kinds of cardiovascular disease, and can even increase the risk of weight gain, memory issues, impotence, and headaches.
And since sleep apnea can dramatically inhibit a person’s quality of sleep, the condition can put tired people at risk for things like motor vehicle accidents and poor job performance.
Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but it’s still very important to speak to your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms. Once sleep apnea has been diagnosed by a medical professional, finding a suitable treatment is the next best step.