The consequences of suffering from Sleep Apnea
What is OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)?
When you fall into deep sleep, your tongue, soft palate, and throat tissues fall into a relaxed state. Sleep apnea is when these tissues over-relax, causing them to collapse into the back of the throat and obstruct your airway. This temporarily stops or suspends your breathing which disrupts your sleep and negatively impacts your mental and physical health.
When the flow of oxygen stops, the brain is forced to awaken to consciously resume breathing. These mini-episodes can occur hundreds of times a night, which prevent the person from falling into a deep, restorative sleep and recharging their brain and body. Some of the things disruptive sleep due to OSA can lead to are:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Obesity and rapid weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
Am I at risk for Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common condition which afflicts over 25 million adults in the US alone. However, since many things can contribute to increased risk, anyone can suffer from sleep apnea, including children. You may be at a higher risk for OSA if you:
- Are over the age of 40
- Have a family history of OSA
- Suffer from GERD (GastroEsophageal Reflux Disease)
- Suffer from chronic nasal congestion
- Have TMJ or a misaligned bite
- Are a shift worker or have a changing sleep schedule
Many people go through life completely unaware they suffer from sleep apnea since it occurs during sleep. The symptoms themselves may often be the only clue, so it’s important to know how to recognize them so you can seek treatment if necessary. If you’re unsure, making an audio recording of your sleep can often illuminate a nighttime breathing problem. Some of the main symptoms of OSA to watch for are:
- Trouble focusing
- Heavy snoring
- Headaches and migraines
- Restless sleep
- Depression and irritability
- TMJ symptoms
How can I find out if I have Sleep Apnea?
If you suspect that yourself or someone you care about is suffering from sleep apnea due to the above symptoms, it may be time to visit a Regina dentist such as Dr. Loreen Larson. She can help to determine if you should have further testing to uncover the root of the problem. By using Screening Tools such as the Epworth, Berlin Study, STOP BANG screening and the “Simple Eight” she will identify the “red flags” of possible Sleep Apnea and ensure that you are on the pathway to a diagnosis by a Sleep physician.
If you are diagnosed with Sleep Apnea you may be prescribed a CPAP. The CPAP works by propelling a steady stream of air into your lungs. However, CPAP is not always the right solution. It requires a mask or nasal tubes to be worn while you sleep, which many people find uncomfortable and difficult to fit. As well, the CPAP machine itself can be rather noisy (disrupting you or your partner’s sleep ) and is difficult to carry around if your travel for work or leisure.
If CPAP treatment isn’t an option for you, than Health Style Dental uses a new technology, the MatRX by Zephyr Air, to determine with 96% accuracy if you’re a candidate for Oral Appliance Therapy. This treatment is a custom fitted oral device similar to a mouthguard, which is crafted to help keep the airway open by holding the jaw in a proper position. This is comfortable, silent, and much easier to take with you than a CPAP machine. If you have any further questions or concerns, feel free to contact Health Style Dental to speak with our educated staff or book an appointment.