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900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

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10 Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition that affects more than 22 million Americans and that can cause health problems immediately and over the long term. Learning about this condition is critical to promoting prompt treatment and to protecting yourself and your family against the effects of sleep apnea. At our dental practice, we will work with you to find the best ways to manage this condition. It’s important to schedule an appointment with a dentist if you suspect you have sleep apnea as a good nights sleep is crucial to protecting you overall good health.

Types of Sleep Apnea

In total, there are three basic types of sleep apnea, which include the following:

  1. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of this ailment and is caused by excessive relaxation of the throat muscles. This causes the airway to close partially or completely for a brief period during sleep, which can cause oxygen deprivation that forces the patient to awaken.
  2. Central sleep apnea is caused by a malfunction in the brain stem that is sometimes caused by congenital defects, injuries or medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease. When the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the respiratory system, the patient can essentially forget to breathe during sleep.
  3. Complex sleep apnea often results when a case of obstructive sleep apnea continues even after the physical causes of this condition have been corrected. It shares symptoms with both central and obstructive sleep apnea.

Risk Factors and Known Causes of Sleep Apnea

The chance of developing sleep apnea goes up significantly in the presence of some common factors, which include the following:

  • Obese and overweight patients are more likely to develop sleep apnea because of added fat around the upper airway of the throat.
  • Smoking weakens throat muscles and can contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Men are at about double the risk of this condition compared with women, though the percentage difference declines for post-menopausal women.
  • Narrow airway passages are a risk factor for sleep apnea.
  • Asthma and other respiratory diseases also increase the risk of developing sleep apnea.
  • Patients who have high blood pressure are also more likely to have issues with sleep apnea. The converse is also true.

10 Common Signs of Sleep Apnea

The following questions will help you to determine whether you should seek evaluation for potential sleep apnea issues.

Are you sleepy during the day?

Sleepiness or fatigue during the day are often indicators of issues with sleeping at night, which could be caused by sleep apnea.

Do you have difficulty focusing or concentrating?

Lack of sleep often results in problems with focusing on difficult or complicated tasks. In some cases, these issues can affect your job performance, your ability to drive safely and your overall mental acuity.

Do you snore?

Snoring may not indicate that you have sleep apnea. However, it is a symptom that many people with sleep apnea do exhibit.

Do you wake up gasping for air?

Choking or gasping for air at night is usually an indication that you have stopped breathing briefly for some reason. In some cases, these episodes can happen as often as 30 times an hour for the entire night.

Do others tell you that you stopped breathing while you slept?

Reports from friends, family members or your spouse that you stopped breathing in your sleep are a clear indication that you may have sleep apnea.

Do you have headaches in the morning?

Lack of sleep combined with oxygen deprivation can cause severe headaches that are worse in the morning and subside as the day continues.

Do you have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure and sleep apnea appear to be linked and often occur together in our patients.

Are you unusually moody or emotional?

Prolonged or extended sleep deprivation can change the chemistry of your brain to increase the risk of emotional outbursts or mood swings. Sleep deprivation is a common side effect of sleep apnea.

Do you have a sore throat or dry mouth when you first awaken?

Both dry mouth and a sore throat are common side effects caused by straining for breath during the night because of a closed or partially closed airway. If you routinely wake up with a sore throat or a dry mouth, these symptoms may be a result of sleep apnea.

Have you experienced a reduction in sexual desire?

Impotence and loss of libido are common symptoms of sleep apnea and can usually be treated by the same methods used to resolve sleep apnea problems.

What Happens If Sleep Apnea Is Not Treated?

Cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and respiratory problems are all possible side effects of sleep apnea. Seeking a diagnosis from your medical doctor or a specialist in the field of sleep disorders and sleep apnea will typically allow you to resolve the issue to lower your risk of these serious medical consequences.

Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you can usually expect your doctor to recommend one of the two following treatments:

A continuous positive airway pressure machine, more commonly referred to as a CPAP machine, is used for cases of obstructive sleep apnea. It provides consistent pressure to help keep your airways open and to make your breathing easier during sleep.

Our dental team specializes in creating custom dental solutions for sleep apnea. These mouth devices are especially appropriate for our patients with obstructive sleep apnea and are designed to reposition the tongue or the jaw to help prevent issues with airway closure during the night. We will work with you to create a customized treatment plan for your sleep apnea issues.

What’s the Easiest Way to Get Help for Sleep Apnea?

If you are suffering from sleep apnea, give our dental team a call today. We specialize in providing compassionate and caring dental services in the area. Our dentists will work with you to find the perfect solution for all your dental care needs. At our office, we look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

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(703) 291-3111

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