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The Ten Most Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

Over 22 million people in the U.S. have sleep apnea, which is a physical disorder that disrupts their sleep patterns. Victims of sleep apnea involuntarily stop breathing when they’re asleep, and the cessation can last for ten seconds or longer. Not only does this prevent them from receiving the restful sleep that their bodies need to rejuvenate, but the disorder can also be life-threatening. Read on for more information about sleep apnea and how to determine if you have it.

Are There Several Types Of Sleep Apnea?

There are three types of sleep apnea, and an individual can have one of them or a combination of them. They are:

Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA:
OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs due to throat muscles that are too relaxed, which causes a blockage in the airway. This causes the chest muscles to work harder to force air into your lungs. Although the pauses may last only a few seconds each, you can have as many as 30 pauses in an hour. OSA is more common in men than in women.

Central sleep apnea, or CSA:
CSA is characterized by inadequate oxygen delivery to the brain. Usually, it’s caused by trauma to the brain stem or a disease such as Parkinson’s disease.

Complex sleep apnea:
Also called mixed sleep apnea, complex sleep apnea has a combination of the symptoms of both CSA and OSA. Researchers are unsure of the triggers for mixed sleep apnea but have observed that it often begins due to a physical obstruction, but it continues after the obstruction has been removed.

Will I Develop Sleep Apnea?

Although anyone can develop sleep apnea at any age, there are some lifestyle habits, medical conditions, and physical attributes that will contribute to its onset, such as:

  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • High blood pressure
  • Male gender
  • Medical conditions such as asthma, adenoids, narrow air passages
  • Obesity
  • Smoking

By losing weight, reducing your hypertension, or quitting smoking, you can eliminate some of the factors that may cause you to develop sleep apnea.

Are There Common Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Although some of the signs and symptoms will depend on the type of sleep apnea that you have, you’ll probably notice many of the following if you have sleep apnea:

  1. Extreme tiredness through the day: Sleep apnea deprives you of the REM sleep that you need for your body to rejuvenate. Although you may not remember waking during the night, your body will be negatively affected by the lack of quality sleep. As a result, you may be mentally fuzzy and sleepy during the day but be unaware of the reason for it.
  2. Snoring: Snoring is disruptive to everyone and can be an indicator of sleep apnea. Sometimes, snoring occurs when there’s not enough room in the airway for the body to breathe adequately.
  3. Gasping or choking: If you sometimes wake up because you’re choking or gasping, you may have sleep apnea. Choking or gasping is the body’s method of restoring needed oxygen.
  4. Intermittent breathing: If you periodically have pauses of up to ten seconds or more between breaths, you may have sleep apnea.
  5. Dry mouth or a sore throat in the morning: Many sleep apnea sufferers sleep with their mouths open so that they have more oxygen during the night. This causes them to wake up with scratchy throats and a dry mouth.
  6. Morning headaches: If you wake up with a headache in the morning, it can be due to a lack of sleep and low oxygen levels during the night. These are classic signs of sleep apnea.
  7. Lack of mental acuity: If you don’t get enough quality sleep during the night, you can have fuzzy thought processes during the day. This is very common among sleep apnea patients.
  8. Decreased sex drive: Those who have sleep apnea will often have lower testosterone levels, which can result in a decreased sex drive.
  9. Erratic moods: Research indicates that a structural change takes place in the brain as a result of sleep apnea. This may be attributed to a chemical imbalance, and it can result in irritability among those who suffer from sleep apnea.
  10. High blood pressure: The chemical imbalance caused by sleep apnea can elevate the blood pressure, which can be exacerbated by low oxygen levels in the blood. A low oxygen level is a direct result of breathing interruptions.

Does Sleep Apnea Require Treatment?

If you have sleep apnea or you suspect that you may have it, then you should consult with your dentist. Although it may have a physical component, rather than completely oral, dentists are trained to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, and the treatments aren’t invasive. When you don’t treat sleep apnea, you can develop other medical issues such as Type 2 diabetes or hypertension. If you already have those issues, they can worsen. If you think you may have sleep apnea, call your dentist.

How Can My Dentist Treat Sleep Apnea?

The first step in treating sleep apnea is to diagnose it. The first step in a sleep apnea diagnosis is a sleep study, which can be conducted either at home or in a clinic. The sleep study can confirm the presence of sleep apnea and the type you have or the presence of another disorder that disrupts your sleep.

One of the methods for treating OSA is a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or a CPAP machine. This method uses a face mask, and a machine forces air through it so that you maintain an even flow of oxygen during the night. If there’s a pause in your breathing, then the machine takes over and breathes for you.

OAT therapy is another type of treatment for sleep apnea and is often preferred over the CPAP machine because of its portability. Oral appliance therapy, or OAT therapy, uses a device similar to a mouthguard to keep your airway open and ensure that you receive an adequate supply of oxygen during the night.

Can I Get Treated for Sleep Apnea Near Me?

If you think you have sleep apnea, then you should seek a diagnosis and treatment without delay. Your local dentist can provide you with the equipment you need and confirm the presence of sleep apnea or another issue that keeps you from sleeping restfully. Call Dental Associates of Northern Virginia today at to schedule an appointment if you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea. We can help restore your rejuvenating sleep as well as your physical and emotional equilibrium by treating your sleep apnea. Call us today. You’ll be glad you did.

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