Sleep apnea is a type of breathing disorder that’s characterized by a recurring pattern of fatigue, snoring, and disrupted breathing while you’re sleeping.
While there are several types of sleep apnea, one of the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This type of sleep disordered breathing occurs when your throat muscles and soft tissues at the back of your mouth intermittently relax, seal against one another, and block your airway while you’re sleeping. Some of the most common symptoms of OSA are snoring and teeth grinding. Additionally, individuals with undiagnosed OSA may experience:
- Shortness of breath
- Sudden waking
- Dry mouth or a sore throat in the morning
- Insomnia and difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up with headaches
- Feeling fatigued
Identifying Risk Factors
OSA is a common condition in the United States, as it’s estimated that 26 percent of adults between the ages of 30 and 70 years have some form of sleep apnea.1 In terms of risk factors, some are genetic/hereditary, while others are the result of age and lifestyle choices. Each of the following conditions can increase your risk of developing OSA:
- Family history of OSA
- A small or narrow jaw
- Enlarged tonsils
- Large neck circumference
- Alcohol consumption at bedtime
Understanding Your Treatment Options
If you suspect you have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, the first thing you will want to do is schedule an evaluation for testing and diagnosis. Today, sleep studies can be completed in the convenience of your own home. Depending on your specific diagnosis, your treatment may involve a CPAP machine (a device that’s worn at night to force oxygen intake using positive airway pressure.) Alternatively, your sleep specialist might prescribe an oral sleep appliance. Sleep mouthguards are designed to keep your lower jaw in a position that naturally opens your airway. Oral appliances are less cumbersome and more discreet than wearing a CPAP.
Don’t Put Your Treatment Off Another Day
Obstructive sleep apnea is a chronic health condition that impacts everything from your job performance and blood pressure to your attitude and energy level. Left untreated, sleeping disorders can put you at risk for a number of associated health complications, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. There’s also the danger of falling asleep while you’re driving or at work.
If you or someone you love has symptoms of snoring or sleep apnea, contact our office today to schedule an evaluation. It could save their life!