Sleep Apnea: Understanding, Diagnosing, and Treatment
Have you been having trouble sleeping, waking up tired, or being told that your snoring can blow off the roof of your house? If so, you could be one of the estimated 22 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea.
At Natick Dental, we’re committed to helping you understand and treat this common yet potentially serious sleep disorder.
Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition where you pause your breathing or have shallow breaths while you sleep. These pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur 30 times or more an hour. It can lead to disrupted sleep and a list of other potential health issues.
The most common apnea type is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), where the throat muscles intermittently relax and block the airway while you are asleep.
Central Sleep Apnea, which is less common, is when your brain doesn’t send proper signals to the muscles controlling your breathing.
Common Causes of Sleep Apnea
So, what causes this? There are several factors that may increase your risk of sleep apnea:
- Excess weight: Obesity greatly increases the risk of sleep apnea. Fat deposits around the upper airway can block your breathing.
- Narrowed airway: You may inherit naturally narrow airways, or your tonsils or adenoids may become enlarged, blocking the airway.
- Gender and age: Men are two to three times more likely to have sleep apnea than women. However, women increase their risk if they’re overweight. The risk also rises for both genders after the age of 60.
- Smoking and alcohol: If you smoke, then you are 3x more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), while alcohol relaxes the muscles in your throat which can aggravate sleep apnea.
Diagnosing Sleep Apnea
Firstly, you need to have the proper diagnosis. Simply because you are a loud snorer doesn’t mean you have sleep apnea. At Natick Dental, we offer a range of diagnostic tools, and we will want to evaluate your symptoms and review your medical history.
For more in-depth analysis, a sleep study may be necessary. This may be an overnight study at a sleep center or a home sleep test, both with the objective of monitoring your sleep stages, movements, and breathing.
The Impact on Personal Health
If left untreated, sleep apnea can have serious health consequences which may result in high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and/or depression. It can also give you general fatigue that impacts your overall productivity and quality of life.
Sleep Apnea Treatment at Natick Dental
Fortunately, there are effective treatments. If you have a milder case then lifestyle changes might be recommended, like losing some weight or quitting smoking. If these measures don’t improve your signs and symptoms, the dentist will create a custom oral appliance you wear while you sleep that can help improve the flow of air.
Why Choose Natick Dental?
When it comes to diagnosing and treating sleep apnea, Natick Dental is your reliable and skilled partner.
For more information about sleep apnea treatments or to set up a consultation, please contact us at our Natick dental office.