What is sleep apnea and how to treat it?

What is sleep apnea and how to treat it?

December 3, 2021

Sleep apnea is a severe sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts while sleeping. These brief pauses in breathing cause awakening severally at random times during sleep. As a result, people who have sleep apnea don’t get enough sleep. Interestingly, people around them don’t sleep well either, given that loud snoring is a characteristic feature of this condition.

Not surprisingly, poor sleep at night leads to daytime tiredness associated with decreased productivity at work, motor accidents, unproductivity at school, etc. When left untreated, sleep apnea can cause many health problems, including stroke, cardiomyopathy (abnormal enlargement of the heart’s muscle tissues), diabetes, hypertension, heart attack, heart failure, etc. Therefore, early treatment of the condition is necessary to prevent these unwanted complications.

Types Of Sleep Apnea

There are three major types of sleep apnea based on the cause. These include:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea: This is the most common type of apnea. In this type of apnea, there are repeated episodes of complete or partial upper airway blockage during s When this occurs, the diaphragm and chest muscles work harder as the pressure increases to open the blocked airway. The body resumes breathing with a loud gasp or body jerk.

Factors that increase the risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea include obesity, nasal congestion, family history, smoking, old age, drinking alcohol, etc.

  • Central Sleep Apnea: In this case of apnea, rather than the airway being blocked, the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe. This occurs as a result of instability in the respiratory control center. Central sleep apnea can be linked to the functions of the central nervous system.

Factors that increase the risk of developing central sleep apnea include stroke, narcotic pain medication, old age, male, heart disorders, etc.

  • Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: An individual has both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

The symptoms of sleep apnea are as follows:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

  • Daytime sleepiness and fatigue.
  • Snoring.
  • Dry mouth and sore throat when you wake up.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Night sweats.
  • Restlessness during sleep.
  • Cognitive impairment.

Central Sleep Apnea

  • Unusual sleeping positions.
  • Excessive sweating at night.
  • Breathing and swallowing difficulty.
  • Sluggishness or sleepiness.
  • Bedwetting.
  • Behavioral disorders.

Whenever you notice any of these symptoms, you should go to a dental clinic in Emerson or see a dentist near you as soon as possible.

Sleep Apnea Treatment

There are several methods for treating sleep apnea. These include conservative methods, mechanical therapy, the use of special devices, and surgery.

Conservative methods are advised in mild cases. The principle is to focus on the risk factors. Hence, a workout routine for weight loss, avoiding alcohol and smoking, and nasal sprays for allergies are advised. If none of these prove effective, mechanical therapy is another viable option.

Some people benefit from a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) that prevents blockage of the airways during sleep. The machine delivers air pressure through a face mask worn to sleep. This pressure can overcome any resistance to breathing, thereby preventing sleep apnea. Although it is pretty effective, people find it cumbersome. When you use a CPAP, you have to go to bed every night with a facemask strapped to your face. This may feel uncomfortable, but people learn to adjust as time goes by. Other forms of mechanical therapy for sleep apnea include the Auto-CPAP that automatically adjusts the pressure while you’re sleeping and the Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BPAP).

Your dentist may recommend an oral appliance that helps to keep the airway open during sleep. These appliances are usually custom-made for the person who will use them. An excellent example of such a device is the night guard.

Surgical procedures for sleep apnea treatment may focus on removing tissues causing airway blockage, such as in tissue removal (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty) or tissue shrinkage surgeries. Jaw repositioning attempts to realign the anatomy of the structures that make the airway. This can solve the issue of airway blockage. Some surgeries even go as far as creating a new airway, although this is reserved for life-threatening sleep apnea.

We offer quality sleep apnea treatment at Emerson Family Dental. Book an appointment with us today.

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