How Can I Treat My Sleep Apnea?

couple woman man sleeping in bed sleep apnea

Is Sleep Apnea Treatable?

While you may think that your sleep apnea may only lead to a disrupted sleep schedule for you or your partner, this condition has serious consequences if left untreated. Keep reading to learn how our dentists at Richardson Dentistry can help give you a better night’s sleep and manage your sleep apnea symptoms.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder where a patient’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts again.

The three main types of sleep apnea include:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: where the throat muscles relax and cause breathing issues.
  • Central sleep apnea: where your brain doesn't send proper signals to the muscles which control your breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea syndrome: where you have both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea Risk Factors

Though anyone can develop sleep apnea, common risk factors for the condition include:

  • Excess weight/obesity
  • A narrow airway
  • A thicker neck circumference
  • Being male
  • Being older
  • Having a family history of sleep apnea
  • Use of alcohol or sedatives
  • Heavy smoking
  • Consistent nasal congestion
  • Congestive heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Prior stroke
  • Chronic lung diseases (such as asthma)

Common Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Though sleep apnea is mostly associated with loud snoring during sleep and feeling tired once you’ve woken up, other symptoms include:

  • Gasping for air while asleep
  • Waking with a dry mouth
  • Headaches in the morning or after waking up
  • Episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep (insomnia)
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness (hypersomnia)
  • Difficulty paying attention while awake
  • Irritability

Specifically, patients with obstructive sleep apnea may snort, choke, and gasp in their sleep — this pattern typically repeats itself up to 30 times an hour, throughout your sleep. This prevents you from reaching a deep sleep phase, which is why many patients wake up still feeling tired.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep apnea is more than just loud snoring — it’s a serious condition that can lead to the following circumstances:

Daytime Fatigue

As mentioned previously, the repetitive cycle of awakening, falling back asleep, and awaking again prevents patients with sleep apnea from gaining the restorative sleep they need. This can cause extreme drowsiness during the day. This may seem like a small problem, but if left untreated this fatigue can affect every part of your daily routine — including at the workplace or driving a motor vehicle.

High Blood Pressure and Heart Problems

Sleep apnea causes sudden drops in your blood oxygen levels, which increases your blood pressure and puts a strain on your cardiovascular system overall. With these issues can also come an increased risk of a heart attack, stroke, metabolic syndrome, or abnormal heartbeats.

Liver Problems

Abnormal results on liver function tests are common for patients with sleep apnea. Additionally, individuals are more likely to show signs of scarring.

Type 2 Diabetes

Sleep apnea increases your risk of developing insulin resistance — which can in turn result in type 2 diabetes. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, it’s important to monitor your levels and see your doctor for bloodwork to determine if you are developing diabetes.

Complications During Surgery or With Medication

People with obstructive sleep apnea may experience an issue with certain medications, as well as general anesthesia. Complications after major surgery are more likely because these patients are prone to severe breathing problems — especially when sedated and lying on their backs.

Mouthguard Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Though it may seem as though there is no treatment for this sleeping condition, our dentists at Richardson Dentistry are experts in using mouthguards for sleep apnea treatment. Keep reading to learn how we can help improve your symptoms.

How Does the Treatment Work?

Our dentists at Richardson Dentistry can provide you with a plastic device, similar to a mouthguard — which is specifically designed to hold the tongue and jaw in certain positions in order to prevent soft tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway in your mouth.

These simple devices are much easier to tolerate and are more convenient to maintain and travel with — compared to older continuous positive airway pressure treatments (CPAP). Additionally, patient compliance with our mouthguard-style treatments tends to be much higher than with the CPAP devices because these modern oral appliances are far more comfortable.

Sleep Apnea Treatments in Richardson

Regain a peaceful night’s sleep and prevent complications with your sleep apnea by booking a consultation with our team at Richardson Dentistry! To book an appointment, contact our team at (972) 218-0078 or visit us online.

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