According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 50 million people in America suffer from not getting enough sleep, and sleep apnea is the cause of at least 10 million of those cases. Although sleep apnea is not an uncommon condition, it can lead to serious side effects and can become dangerous if left undiagnosed and untreated.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder in which there are pauses in your breathing. These gaps in breath can last a few seconds, or in some cases minutes, which is very dangerous. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the person is unaware that they have sleep apnea, because their breathing while awake is normal. Your Reston and Ashburn sleep apnea experts at Virginia Dental Solutions, wants you to know how to identify sleep apnea before it damages your quality of life.
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are three main types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The walls of your throat relax so much during sleep that they actually prevent air from getting to your lungs. This is the most common type of sleep apnea.
- Central Sleep Apnea: The brain fails to signal the correct messages for breathing while you sleep.
- Complex Sleep Apnea: A mixture of both conditions.
The following are signs that it might be time to visit your local sleep apnea expert:
- Snorting Noises: This in itself is a sign that sleeping has been interrupted, and people with severe sinus problems or nasal obstructions are more prone to develop sleep apnea.
- Daytime Fatigue: If you experience daytime cognitive effects, even after you believe that you've gotten a full night's sleep, you may have sleep apnea. You might be experiencing memory impairment and irritability, both of which are signs of a possible sleep disorder.
- Physical Signs: You may also be physically prone to sleep apnea. Large tonsils, a very large neck size, or have a family history of sleep apnea can all make you more likely to suffer from the disorder. You may want to see Dr. Hill if you are also experiencing fatigue during the day, or are making snorting noises while you sleep.
- Remember, sleep apnea can become a very serious condition, but there are many options for treatment. Millions of Americans are treated for sleep apnea every year.
Treating Sleep Apnea
Lifestyle changes: Many people see an improvement in their sleep apnea after losing weight, changing sleeping positions, quitting smoking, or avoiding sleeping pills or alcohol before bed.
Oral appliance: One way your dentist can help in treating sleep apnea is through an oral appliance. This is a conservative treatment option. This oral appliance can reposition the jaw during sleep, opening up the airway and reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.
You should begin treatment for sleep apnea as soon as you suspect a problem. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to complications such as:
- High blood pressure
- Irregular heart rhythm
- Heart attacks
- Sleep deprivation
- Depression or mood swings
For more information on sleep apnea and its treatment, call our Ashburn, VA office at (703) 858-0000 to schedule a consultation.