Sleep Apnea

Do you have trouble sleeping at night? If you snore loudly or feel exhausted during the day, you may suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition that affects many people and can have severe consequences if left untreated.

This blog post will discuss tips on dealing with sleep apnea. We will also cover when it is necessary to seek professional help from a dentist.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. This can happen because of airway obstruction or a problem with the brain signals that control breathing. Sleep apnea can cause loud snoring, gasping for air, and fatigue during the day; this sleep condition can cause many health concerns.

There are two main types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): is the most common type of sleep apnea. It occurs when the throat muscles relax and block the airway.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA): This type of sleep apnea occurs when the brain does not send signals to the muscles that control breathing.

What are the Health Risks Associated With Sleep Apnea?

Unfortunately, those who suffer from Sleep Apnea can face a whole host of health risks. These include:

  • High blood pressure – sleep apnea sufferers are more likely to have issues with drug-resistant hypertension. Since medicines are basically ineffective in this case, many patients try sleeping postures to reduce blood pressure
  • Heart disease – patients with OSA, are 4x more likely to suffer atrial fibrillation and at risk for congestive heart failure. Therefore, these patients should be screened for congestive heart failure more frequently.
  • Stroke – patients with moderate to severe OSA are 3x more likely to suffer from strokes. The more severe the condition, the more likely strokes will happen.
  • Suffer from Daytime sleepiness – OSA sufferers can have impaired concentration and focus during the day. This can cause problems at work or school, making them 7x more likely to be in a car accident.
  • Loud Snoring – OSA patients have relationship issues and can suffer from morning headaches with mismanaged Sleep Apnea.
  • GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition that causes stomach acid to back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn, chest pain, and other symptoms.
  • Cancer – Severe forms of Sleep Apnea increase your risk of developing cancer by 65%.
  • Sudden Death – OSA sufferers are 30% more likely to suffer from heart attacks or premature death. Sleep Apnea also increases your risk for sudden death between 10 PM and 6 AM.
  • Chronic Pain – Approximately 80% of fibromyalgia patients also suffer from Sleep Apnea. In addition, patients that have conditions treated with opioids are also 75% more likely to develop Sleep Apnea.

As you can see, adequate sleep is crucial to maintaining good health and should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, countless conditions can develop due to poor sleeping habits, a bad diet, and a lack of exercise. However, doctors and patients can control sleep apnea with proper treatment and care.

Tips for Controlling Sleep Apnea

As we’ve mentioned, Sleep Apnea can cause many adverse health impacts on patients. To prevent these health risks, taking steps to control sleep apnea is crucial. While these tips won’t cure your sleep apnea, they may help to reduce the severity of your symptoms:

  • Use a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure machine –  these machines help keep your airway open while you sleep by using a mask connected to a hose. The machine pumps air into the mask, which helps to keep your airway open after your throat muscles relax too much.
  • Change Your Sleep Position – sleeping on your side can help to reduce snoring and improve your sleep quality. However, while this keeps your back more aligned, it puts more pressure on your shoulders, neck, and hips without the proper pillow.
  • Lose Weight – for those who are overweight, losing even a few pounds can help to reduce the severity of your sleep apnea. In addition, shedding weight has been known to resolve Sleep Apnea in many patients.
  • Avoid Alcohol and Smoking Tobacco – these substances disrupt your sleep cycle and cause unwanted early awakenings. In addition, tobacco disturbs your regular rate of breathing and causes inflammation in your upper airway.
  • Exercise – a moderate exercise routine for as few as two days a week can help to reduce the severity of sleep apnea by improving your cardiovascular health and lowering your weight. 
  • Using a Dental Apparatus – A dental appliance may be recommended for mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea. The instrument is a mouthguard-like device that helps to keep your airway open by bringing your lower jaw and tongue forward. Dental appliances are only recommended for those with mild sleep apnea or who cannot use a CPAP machine. In more severe cases, surgery may be the only option.
  • Buy the Right Kind of Pillow –  when you sleep on your side, it is essential to have a pillow that will support your head and neck properly. The wrong kind of pillow can cause neck pain, making it challenging to stay in one position for long periods. Softer cushions work best for side-sleepers, and thinner, firmer pillows work better for stomach sleepers.

When Should I Seek Professional Help?

If you think you may have sleep apnea, it is vital to see a doctor or dentist. Northstar Dental Care of Nazareth offers a free consultation to discuss your options for treatment. Our team of experts will work with you to find the best solution for your individual needs. 

Our knowledgeable staff is confident that our work goes beyond just improving your smile – we want to improve your life. However, suppose you find these tips aren’t helpful, and we determine that your case is more serious. In that case, the last option is the Uvula-Palate-Pharyngoplasty (UPPP), or surgery located in the soft palate of the throat will alleviate your symptoms.

In addition to the best Sleep Apnea treatment, Northstar Dental Care of Nazareth offers a wide range of dental services for the whole family. Whether you need a routine cleaning, a filling, or a more complex procedure, Northstar Dental Care can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

By Caitlyn

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