Sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep, can lead to more than just restless nights and tired days—it can also cause cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, and memory loss. Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed, so it’s important to know the warning signs so that you can speak to your orthodontist if you think you have it.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea causes people to stop breathing when they sleep. There are many symptoms that accompany this condition, including loud snoring and interrupted sleep. In addition, those with sleep apnea often wake up feeling very tired and without energy. If you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor for an examination.
Causes of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea occurs when the airways in your throat become blocked and you stop breathing. People with sleep apnea usually have 10 seconds or longer pauses while sleeping and may snore loudly. This can happen many times during the night, which makes for restless sleep that is often interrupted.
Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms of sleep apnea at night or during the day, then it may be time to get checked out by your doctor. There are two different ways to diagnose sleep apnea. A polysomnography (PSG) is a test that measures various factors including your brain, lung, and heart activity as well as your blood oxygen levels while you are asleep, while a home sleep test is a simplified version that also tracks your blood oxygen levels along with your heart rate and breathing patterns.
Ways to Stop Snoring
If you are snoring and waking yourself up, there is a good chance you have sleep apnea. If you don’t see any other symptoms of sleep apnea, it could be that your throat muscles are just temporarily clenching and making the noise. Try sleeping on your side instead of your back to see if the snoring goes away. You can also try wearing a chin strap (a small strap that will put pressure on your jaw) or trying nasal strips. For people with more severe sleep apnea, these solutions may not help. In this case, you should visit your doctor for more information about treatment options like oral appliances, surgery, or continuous positive airway pressure devices (CPAP).
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
In severe cases, treatment for sleep apnea may be required. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common form of treatment and involves wearing a mask over your nose while you sleep that helps keep the airways open. CPAP therapy is effective for about 80 percent of people who need it. In select cases, other treatments include oral appliances, surgery, or weight loss surgery.
Questions About Sleep Apnea?
Dr. Demko of Demko Orthodontics is highly experienced in diagnosing and treating breathing disorders like sleep apnea. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, contact Demko Orthodontics today to set up a consultation or request an appointment online. With three conveniently-located offices in Chesterfield, St. Charles, and Washington, we are committed to serving patients throughout the greater St. Louis area.